Elizabeth Reist was only 8 years old when she tugged on the back of her grandmother’s shirt and asked if she could follow her everywhere she went. Her grandmother, Karen Haigh of Haigh’s Maple Syrup and Supplies, still recalls that moment as if it were yesterday.

“She said, ‘If I’m going to be queen some day, I have to know how to do all of this,’” Haigh recalled with a chuckle.

Reist doesn’t remember the moment herself, but knows she’s wanted to be Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival Queen since the moment she saw her mother’s crown as a child. Her mother, Lachelle Plue was crowned in 1989.

“Just seeing her crown, I knew I wanted to wear the crown too,” Reist said.

She was so determined that she started going to the Queen’s Contest five years ago to prepare herself for when she became old enough. A 16-year-old Olivet High School junior, Reist’s opportunity came this past February.

“I was so nervous,” Reist said of this year’s contest. “Two years ago I saw a girl who was so disappointed when she didn’t win that I knew I had to prepare myself in case I did not win.”

Fortunately for Reist she avoided disappointment, realizing a lifelong dream to wear the crown. Reist was crowned the 2014 Vermontville Maple Syrup Festival Queen on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

“It was super exciting,” Reist said. “Working for something for so long and actually being able to do it, I don’t know how to describe it.”

It was a proud moment for her family as well.

“I’m glad she wanted to carry on the tradition,” Haigh said.

Maple Syrup production has been a part of Haigh’s life since she was a young child. She and her husband, Larry started their business shortly after getting married in 1965. Plue and Reist both grew up around the business. Attending Maple Valley High School or being the child or grandchild of one of the Syrup Producers is a requirement of all Queen’s candidates.Elizabeth Reist