Queen designate Ahna keeps family close to heart at festival

Queen Shenandoah designate Ahna Cameron speaks to reporters after arriving in Winchester on Wednesday night to start the Apple Blossom festivities this week in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER – There may be a few rainy days yet in store for this year’s 89th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival, but it hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of Queen Shenandoah LXXXIX designate Ahna Cameron.

Ahna said she’s been staying with family in Herndon for the past few days before traveling into the Shenandoah Valley for the festival. Two things that stick out to her about Virginia versus her home in California are the bugs and the delicious sweet tea.

“I just know that this is a really pretty area and everyone’s super sweet so far,” she said.

She’ll be making a number of appearances at Bloom events, most notably at the Queen’s Dinner this evening, her Coronation ceremony Friday afternoon, the Queen’s Ball later Friday evening and in the Grand Feature Parade on Saturday.

“I’m excited for the ball … I love dancing, I get to meet new people, it’s great,” she said.

Although she said this is the first time she’s been in the Shenandoah Valley, she’s already heard all about the festival and knows exactly what’s in store.

Ahna’s cousin, Natasha Bure, was crowned Queen Shenandoah LXXXVIII last year by her mother and Ahna’s aunt, Candace Cameron Bure. Natasha shared the scrapbook provided to her by festival staff with Ahna, including a few video clips.

“She told me about how big this one pie is, I think it’s at the Queen’s Ball,” Ahna said. “I’m going to try a lot of pie, I’m a big pie girl. My grandma makes a mean apple pie and pumpkin pie.”

Her grandmother, Barbara Cameron, will be accompanying her to many events and crowning her at her coronation. Ahna said she’s picked out an elegant and simple gown for the event, accentuated with pearls and chiffon.

“I watched Natasha’s (coronation) … it looks very neat and exciting,” she said. “I love how it’s traditional. I’m the 89th queen, so this has happened 88 times before me – it’s really neat.”

Ahna is the daughter of “Growing Pains” co-stars Kirk and Chelsea Cameron. Kirk Cameron was the featured guest speaker at the 2004 Prayer Brunch and will be attending as a special guest this year.

Ahna said she’s accompanied her dad on his traveling marriage ministry event, gaining real-world experience helping people along the way. She said she’s settled on pursuing a future in nursing and helping people through ministry – hopefully starting at a school that’s not too far away.

“Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a heart to serve other people,” she said. “I love serving, helping other people.”

This summer, Ahna will be exercising that drive to help others at a continuing internship with Joni and Friends.

“They distribute wheelchairs in different countries, and I’ve been helping out with her and her ministry, and it’s really a great experience – it’s one of those things that you can’t get anywhere else,” she said.

Having made the tough decision to give up track to pursue her future goals, she said she’d advise other girls to “stay strong in their faith.”

“Faith and family – two top things that are important in life,” she said. “And choose your friends wisely.”

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com