The North Carolina Rhododendron Festival celebrated its 71st year in June and two girls from Marion competed in the annual pageant.

The festival takes place each year during the third week in June to coincide with the blooming of the rhododendron gardens atop Roan Mountain. The gardens boast the world’s largest naturally blooming collection of Catawba rhododendron with over 600 acres.

On Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17, seven girls from western North Carolina competed in the NC Rhododendron Pageant for their chance at the reigning title and scholarship money.

In the junior division, Madlyn Duncan, 12, of Marion, won the crown. Her parents are Aletha and Clay Duncan, of Marion. She also won in the categories of interview, talent and evening gown.

Kaylyn Fairchild, 11, of Marion, was the first runner-up in the junior division.

Anna-Claire Musick, 19, of Macclesfield, is the senior NC Rhododendron Queen. She is a dancer, who also won first in interview and talent.

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