As Thomasville’s Mary Cathryn Dixon prepares to pass on the Thomasville Rose Queen crown to her successor, the 18-year-old recent Brookwood School graduate is looking back on her year’s reign with gratitude and appreciation.

While she loved reigning over Thomasville’s annual Rose Festival and helping serve as one of Thomasville’s official hostesses this year, she says her most memorable experience has been seeing and experiencing the event she grew up attending from a completely different vantage point and perspective.

“It’s very surprising how much work goes into putting on the Rose Show and Festival,” Dixon said during a break from pageant rehearsals this week. “The volunteers and workers put in so much effort every year to make it successful and I’m so grateful.”

There have been so many opportunities made possible by the experience, including “a chance to get a better grasp on Thomasville, a better understanding and an even better appreciation,” she recalled.

Although she is just a bit sad to be giving up her crown, she’s excited to pass it on to the next special young lady and welcome her into the long legacy of Thomasville Rose Queens.

Dixon said she’s met a number of past Rose Queens and been excited to discover that some women she has long known and admired happen to be former titleholders as well.

“Being Thomasville’s Rose Queen is a shared experience and a shared emotion,” she said. “Almost like a sisterhood… it’s an honor that we share.”

And, for the group of contestants vying for this year’s crown, Mary Cathryn Dixon has some important advice.

“Have fun with your friends and the new friends you’re making this week, and just relish the memories you’re making,” she said. “Being the Rose Queen is fun, but it’s a lot of hard work, too. Just present the best, authentic version of yourself out there and use all you’ve learned… apply it, but have fun!”

Later this summer, the Thomasville native will use her Rose Queen scholarship awards to continue her education, possibly with a pre-law focus, as she begins her college career at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

“I really want to thank the Junior Service League and the City of Thomasville, really, for opening up this opportunity for young girls to earn college scholarships,” Dixon said. “I hope the Rose Queen Pageant never fades away. It’s an important part of Thomasville.”