By Debbie Adams
William Byrd High School senior Ellen Frary was crowned queen of the 66th annual Vinton Dogwood Festival on April 24 by Vinton Mayor Brad Grose. The ceremony was held at the Vinton Municipal Building.
Frary is the daughter of John and Amy Frary. Her high school activities include dance with the Star City School of Ballet, Mill Mountain Theatre, and the Virginia Summer 2019 Residential Governor’s School in Performing Arts and Dance; Voice coaching with Calliope Studios; and Theatre/Dance/Voice with Mill Mountain Theatre Conservatory and the Burton Center for Performing Arts. Frary is also a member of the Beta Club and Student Voice, a camp counselor, and worked with Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church in the Camp Possible program.
Frary plans to pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre and hopes to perform on a regional and hopefully national level. At some point in her career, she would like to be involved in performing arts education. Some of her most rewarding experiences in the performing arts have involved working with children.
Other members of the Dogwood Court for 2021 include: Urunna Anyanwu (daughter of Dr. Benjamin Anyanwu and Dr. Chinekwu Anyanwu), Amna Becirevic (daughter of Edin and Denana Becirevic), Grayce Dantzler (daughter of David and Alyce Dantzler), Caroline Gibbs (daughter of Sharon and William Gibbs), Kasey McKee (daughter of Mark and Kim McKee), Natalie Mullins (daughter of Laurie and Tommy Mullins), Elizabeth Recktenwald (daughter of John and Paulette Recktenwald), Erin Taylor (daughter of Kari and David Taylor), and Reagan Tuck (daughter of Kevin and Melissa Tuck).
Mayor Grose welcomed the Dogwood Court and their families to Council Chambers in the Municipal Building for the crowning ceremony at noon.
“The Dogwood Court is made up of exceptional young women representing the Senior Class of William Byrd High School,” said Grose. “These young women were chosen by the faculty for their work in the community and church, and their academic achievements.”
On the morning of the festival, members of the court were interviewed by a panel judges who selected the queen.
In welcoming guests to the ceremony, Mayor Grose noted the importance of the Vinton Dogwood Festival which has put the Town of Vinton on the map, locally and regionally, from its humble beginnings in 1956.
He thanked the Dogwood Committee for their “hard work and the effort you have made to continue the Dogwood tradition InVinton.”
Members of the Dogwood Festival Committee include President for 2021 Beth Abbott, Town of Vinton Liaison and Food Vendor Coordinator Chasity Barbour, Treasurer Jeff Teass, Secretary Rena Whorley, Sponsorships Coordinator Karen Obenchain, Retail/Business Coordinator Brittany Lane, Craft Vendor Coordinator Callie Webb, Entertainment Coordinator Joey Nicely, Media Coordinator Mary Beth Layman, and Susan Teass, Queen’s Court Coordinator.
The mayor also thanked Public Works Director Bo Herndon and the Public Works Department, Police Chief Fabricio Drumond and the Vinton Police Department, and Town Manager Pete Peters and his staff at the Town of Vinton for their work in making the festival a success, especially during a year of challenges and changing circumstances.
Vocalist Floyd Boone sang “God Bless America” prior to the crowning of the queen. Mayor Grose and Chief Drumond presented each member of the 2021 Dogwood Court with a gift of jewelry and an InVinton pin.
The Dogwood Queen and Court traditionally ride on a float in the Dogwood Parade after the crowning, but this year—with no parade feasible due to the pandemic—they rode in horse-drawn carriages through the streets of downtown Vinton, past waving festival-goers once the queen was crowned.