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Posted: 07/09/14

Above is an example of how the new photos will look, with the current Peach Queen always featured in a larger frame. At left are photos of the first and second Peach Queens, whose photos show the necessity of the project.

(Observer photos by Chris Gray)

Lions seek donations for
Peach Queen wall

Observer Staff Writer
      The beauty of a Romeo Peach Queen may never fade, but their pictures do.
       That is why the Romeo Lions Club is seeking assistance in preserving and renovating a wall in its field house that features photos of every young lady that has held the title of Peach Queen.
       The wall, located in a building at Lions Field on Washington Street, features a photo for every Peach Queen, starting with the 1931 Peach Queen Virginia Allor up to 2014 Peach Queen Kaitlyn Krimmel. The years 1943 to 1945 have no queens due to the festival taking a hiatus during World War II.
       The wall began in 2006 with Peach Queen chaperones Sue Vagi and Ray and Annette Nightingale. Since then, though, the photos have begun to bend and fade due to exposure.
       Jerry Vagi, a Lions Club member, said the goal is to preserve the current photos and provide a better presentation of all of the pictures by framing them.
       "We feel it is a part of our history, and the club is proud of its history," he said.
       The project will begin by removing all the pictures and scanning them. The scanned copies will then be placed into frames to protect them from any warping or UV damage. The originals will be kept safe in storage, as some of the photos are the only existing copies.
       The current queen's photo will be prominently featured on the new wall in a larger frame, and will then be placed in a smaller frame when the next queen takes over.
       "It will give us more space and more uniformity," Jerry said.
       Before anything is hung, though, the wall itself will be repainted and lighting fixtures and a nearby bulletin board will be removed for additional space.
       The Lions Club took up an offer from William and Christine LeTourneau of Art Rescue to help renovate the wall. He said he has worked with the Lions Club before and is happy to provide his services.
       "This is such a centerpiece to the Lions Club," LeTourneau said. "It inspires the Peach Queens when they come and see it."
       He said he looks forward to improving the wall so that it can one day feature a century's worth of Peach Queens.
       Jerry said a second set of the photos will be given to the Starkweather Arts Center so it can display all the queens in a venue more accessible to the public.
       "Our building is locked up 95 percent of the time," he said.
       The goal is to have the project finished by 2015, with the biggest hurtle being the funds necessary to complete the work. William said the hope is that local businesses and residents will want to contribute to the project and help maintain part of the Peach Festival's rich history.
       "People can sponsor their own queen," he said.
       Jerry said a celebration ceremony will be held once the project is completed so the public and those that invested in it can view the final product. A plaque will be made to name those that contributed.
       He said the Lions Club is also considering a memorial plaque that will honor those that have served in the military as a way of acknowledging the World War II hiatus.
       In addition to donations, Betty Bucsek, a Lions Club member, is asking anyone with information on any of the queens to submit their materials. She said she is happy to make copies of any documents people are willing to provide.
       "We're archiving everything we can," she said. "We won't take any original materials if they don't want us to."
       Held every Labor Day weekend, the Peach Festival has been sponsored by the Romeo Lions Club since 1951. It is the second oldest festival in the state.
       Donations for the project can be made payable to the Romeo Lions Charities and sent to PO Box 23 Romeo, MI 48065.
       For more information about the project or contribution questions, contact Bucsek at 586-336-4949 or

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Retrieved 7/31/2015 at 11:23:02 AM.
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