Reminder Assistant Editor
WILBRAHAM With the Peach Festival in no danger of being cancelled this summer, preparations are already under way to make the 2008 festival as memorable as those in the past. One of the highlights of this annual tradition is crowning of the Peach King and Queen.
Minnechaug Regional High School's National Honor Society hosted the Peach King pageant on Feb. 29 and 10 young men competed against each other to win the coveted title of the festival's king. Students Brian McCormick, Chris Trajkovski, Dave Peltier, Evan Weinberg, Joey McCormick, Jordan Rossman, Kyle Roy, Peter Zimmerman, Rick Sobey and Shane Hogan danced, answered questioned and acted as comedians to earn both the crown and a $500 scholarship.
Zimmerman was named Peach King 2008 at the end of the competition. Roy, the runner-up, earned a $250 scholarship for his efforts.
"My girlfriend [Maria Berthaume] ran for Peach Queen last spring and I thought it was cool," Zimmerman told Reminder Publications. "I never did anything like this before. I thought it was interesting and I thought it would be fun."
The new Peach King explained the various categories contestants were judged on during the pageant. At one point, each young man had to dress up to showcase a hobby he was interested in. Zimmerman said he's into working on cars, so he dressed up like a mechanic and talked about his hobby while his girlfriend walked offstage and then pushed a wooden car with a flat tire onstage. He fixed the flat tire.
Zimmerman said contestants also had to dress up as what they wanted to be as adults when they were little. "I wanted to be Bill Gates," he laughed.
Contestants also had to perform improvisational comedy, a la "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and answer a question provided by the judges.
The highlight of the competition was choreographed dance routine, however. "Two girls from our dance squad taught us that dance," Zimmerman said. "We only had three practices to get it down." All 10 contestants moved and grooved to "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" by the Backstreet Boys and "I'll Make a Man Out of You" by Donny Osmond, from the "Mulan" soundtrack. To see the dance routine, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdbcrcS0DTE.
"That Backstreet Boys song is my favorite song right now," Zimmerman joked.
Five contestants were eliminated after the first round and two more were eliminated in the second round.
"It felt really good to be in the top three," Zimmerman said, "but I was wary about it. They kept calling my name last and I kept thinking 'That's it, I'm out.'"
When he was named the winner, Zimmerman said the crowd went "kind of crazy."
"Girls were screaming and everyone seemed kind of happy," he said.
Zimmerman said he's looking forward to riding in the parade before the Peach Fest, and the organizers have already asked the young men to perform their dance routine at the festival.
While the $500 scholarship that was awarded to the winner wasn't the main reason Zimmerman entered the contest, he did say it was a "big motivator." Although he's not sure whether he'll be attending UMass Amherst or the University of Arizona, he said he plans on majoring in business or marketing.
"I'm excited for the Peach Fest," he stated. "I'm ready to be there as Peach King. I just still can't believe I won. It's pretty amazing. I really didn't think it would be me. It's wicked cool."
The 24th Annual Peach Festival at Fountain Park will take place Aug. 15 - 17.