First Posted: 8/27/2014
Courtney Richards, a freshman at Lake-Lehman High School, earned the title of Pittston Tomato Festival Queen at the annual Greater Pittston event last weekend.
Courtney, 14, heard of the Tomato Festival pageant last summer while competing in another pageant.
“It was earlier that summer and I’d heard about the festival and I competed in a previous pageant at the Luzerne County Miss Outstanding Teen,” she said. “I wanted to continue competing and when I saw the festival coming up, I thought it’d be a great idea and I thought it was a wonderful opportunity.”
Courtney was named runner-up at the Luzerne County Miss Outstanding Teen.
To apply for the chance to be named Tomato Festival Queen, Courtney entered her basic information and answered 21 questions about the Greater Pittston Area as well as her thoughts on current events.
Afterwards, she sat down for a meet and greet with the committee and was later told she would be a finalist. From there, it was just waiting until the pageant.
“The Luzerne County Miss Outstanding Teen was really big,” said Courtney. “It’s by the Miss American organization and a lot went into it and I saw everything from practicing my routine and other things. I think that definitely helped me prepare for this pageant and also working with my vocal coach (former Ms. PA) Gina Major.”
To earn the title of Tomato Queen, the five contestants had to answer five random questions and display a talent. Courtney’s talent was the singing of “Part of This World” from the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid.”
Her choice of the song was not simply because she enjoyed singing it, but the meaning behind the song.
“I felt there was a special message in the song about the girls wanting to stand up and be independent and not just live with what they have,” she said. I’m that type of girl. I want to keep going. I want to strive for more.”
Courtney was in shock when her name was announced as the festival queen winner. With a smile on her face and tears in her eyes, she was crowned the 2014 Pittston Tomato Festival Queen.
“Honestly, I was so shocked,” she said. “I was competing against four other talented girls and any girl would be nervous on stage. I was extremely nervous and when they called me, I was totally flabbergasted. I could not believe what happened.”
Being crowned Tomato Festival Queen is not the end of Courtney’s journey as there are responsibilities she will have to take on such as public appearances and returning to the 2015 Tomato Queen Pageant to crown the next queen.
With school back in session, Courtney is resuming her academic life, competing on the girls volleyball team, participating in the school’s theater program and once again competing for the title of Luzerne County Miss Outstanding Teen this fall.
“With my everyday life, it’s going to add some pressure and I think that there will always be a way where I can figure things out and help represent the area and such,” she said.