Swindle reflects on year as Miss Peach

Published 3:32 pm Friday, June 17, 2011

Jessica Swindle speaks to Chilton County High School students back in April to help promote the Peach Pageant.

Since the age of 5, Jessica Swindle competed in each level of the Peach pageant and tried for Miss Peach three times before she won her first crown last year, becoming Chilton County royalty.

Swindle did place as third alternate in the Miss Peach pageant in 2009, which to her, meant she was closer to her dream so there was no way she was going to give up.

Swindle is shown with former Gov. Bob Riley and her Peach sisters, Leah Easterling, Gracie Owens and Kaitlin Ray. Swindle will crown her successor next Thursday night during the Miss Peach pageant.

“Being Miss Peach means I can accomplish anything,” said Swindle. “I never placed until 2009, but I knew I wanted it – I knew I had to have it, and I won. It means I can do anything I set my mind to. Being Miss Peach means determination, hard work and perseverance.”

Swindle began preparing for the competition about two months before last June’s pageant, working on her own and with professional help on interviewing, which she said made all the difference.

Looking back over the past year, holding the Miss Peach Queen title has meant so much more than keeping a smile and making appearances.

“I had a great year and it was a great experience,” said Swindle. “It was amazing, especially the great bond I’ve formed with my peach sisters. I’ve formed bonds that will last a lifetime. It was definitely a year to remember.”

Before becoming Miss Peach, Swindle didn’t realize just how important the peach industry is to the county, she said. On her journey, she became knowledgeable of the economic boost the peaches have in the county and the importance of the Peach Festival.

“Being Peach Queen, I’ve learned that one-third of our local economy comes from our peach industry,” Swindle said. “I’ve enjoyed learning and appreciate the peach farms and industry in this great county.”

Several of the things Swindle enjoyed the most during her reigning year were riding in parades with her peach sisters and going to the State Farmer’s Market in Montgomery, where she and the Little Miss Peach competed against other queens in a watermelon eating contest and won.

“I also enjoyed meeting the governor,” she said. “ My whole year was great.”

Another exciting event that she will never forget was the inauguration of Gov. Robert Bentley, Swindle said.

“We rode in the parade – it was a historical event,” she said.

Swindle, daughter of Dwight and Melinda Swindle, is a 2010 graduate of Jemison High School. She is going into her sophomore year at Alabama A&M University, where she is a telecommunications major. She later plans to attend Mississippi State for broadcast/meteorology.

Swindle thanked the Clanton Lions Club, her parents and siblings and Chilton County. She leaves the 2011 contestants with final words of advice:

“Begin preparing early because it’s a lot of information to gain,” she said. “Pay attention to the news and the peach industry. Work on speaking because as Miss Peach you have to speak at a lot of events. Also, being able to interview well will not only prepare you for the pageant, which plays a very important part, but will prepare you for job interviews as well.

“I definitely would do it all over again; being Miss Peach is an experience of a lifetime. I could do it for another year. I’m totally going to miss it.”