4-H's Chelsea Benner: 2007 Rhody Queen!

3/26/2008 10:17:00 AM
Better late than never

By Patrick Sullivan

Chelsea Benner was taking a break from volunteering with her mom at Jefferson Healthcare when they told her the news.

A group of "Rhody Moms" met Benner in the hospital's cafeteria.

You're the 2007 Rhododendron Festival Queen, they told her. There was a mistake in last year's scoring.

The Rhododendron Festival Board of Directors early this month discovered that Benner was the actual 2007 queen.

In preparing for the 2008 royalty coronation on March 15, a flaw was discovered in the scoring matrix - a computerized Excel formula spreadsheet - of the 2007 royalty selection, according to Melanie Bozak, festival volunteer.

The Rhododendron Festival Association Board was alerted and an emergency meeting was called. The situation that occurred resulted in one of the six 2007 royalty candidates being given credit for only three of the four judged categories at coronation. The scorecard showed her in fourth place when she should have been in first place. Each of the other contestants would then have been bumped down one slot.

Benner would have been crowned queen of the 72nd Rhododendron Festival had there been no mistake at all, Bozak reported.