UNION — The Union Fair Trustees announced in a press release Tuesday, March 22, the Maine Wild Blueberry Queen competition will be returning for the 2022 fair.

“The Union Fair – Maine Wild Blueberry Festival is pleased to announce that we’re bringing back the long tradition of the Maine Wild Blueberry Queen,” the press release said.

Last year, the trustees changed the competition to the Maine Wild Blueberry Ambassador and opened it to all Maine residents between ages 17 and 22.

Rick Butler, a Union Fair Trustee and publicity and marketing head for the fair, confirmed this return to the Blueberry Queen title meant the contest was once again women only.

“We tested it; it didn’t work,” Butler said. The trustees hoped to have more applicants by widening the requirements, but there were still only four contestants in 2021.

Butler explained having so few applicants meant the money brought in by applicant sponsors was not enough to cover the cash prizes awarded to the winners.

Butler said the trustees made additional changes to the competition they hope will encourage more applicants as well.

Like last year, applicants may be married and may have children, and are not required to be high school graduates.

The age range for applicants has also been expanded from previous years. Young women residents of Maine from ages 17 to 25 are eligible to apply for the Maine Wild Blueberry Queen, even if they are still attending high school.

The date of the fair has been moved to July, which Butler said will hopefully allow for more applicants who are attending college. The August dates meant many college campuses were holding classes by then.

“It’s our hope that more ladies who may be eligible but couldn’t compete in years past due to the start of school/college, will be able to compete this year,” the press release said.

The commitment to the fair for applicants has also been lessened. Butler said this year all Maine Wild Blueberry Queen events will occur on Friday, with the coronation in the evening. In previous years applicants made a week-long commitment to the fair, which could conflict with work.

The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen coronation will occur Friday, July 29, at 7 p.m.

The Maine Wild Blueberry Queen will represent the Maine blueberry industry at various events around the state and New England for the next year, including parades and other fairs and festivals.

Applications will be available soon at UnionFair.org.