BOWIE, MD — Bowie State University (BSU) Miss Freshman, Taylor Barfield of Glen Burnie, Md., was crowned the 2012 United States Cherry Blossom Queen during The National Cherry Blossom Festival®.
Barfield makes history as the first African American and the second princess from Maryland to win the crown.
"I was shocked; I'm really excited. I met the governor of Tokyo and had my first dance as queen with him. It was an honor," said Barfield.
As the Maryland Cherry Blossom Princess, Barfield was selected through the National Conference of State Societies (NCSS) Cherry Blossom Princess and Educational Exchange Program. State and international territorial societies select a representing princess for the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the princesses take part in the weeklong celebration of events in Washington, D.C.
Barfield participated in a Japanese Stone Lantern Lighting Ceremony, the Cherry Blossom Congressional Reception, and the official coronation ceremony and Grand Ball where she was crowned. Barfield was escorted by former Congressman Albert Wynn for the Congressional reception.
"This is a tremendous honor for Taylor. She is a wonderful young lady. This is also an honor for Bowie State University and the State of Maryland," said Wynn.
The U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen is chosen by a random spin of a wheel by the Japanese Ambassador, The Honorable Ichiro Fujisaki. The newly crowned queen, along with the state, territorial, and international princesses, then participates in the National Cherry Blossom Parade® and the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival the following day.
As queen, Barfield will travel to Japan for two weeks in May. Her reign includes various community service events throughout the year. She also received a small replica of the Mikimoto Pearl Crown, used only once a year to crown the U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen. The Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, also gave each of the princess fifty cherry blossom seeds to plant in their state. Barfield plans to plant some of her seeds at the Maryland State House.
"It's an important historical event. Winning the crown has definitely given me an appreciation for community service and I look forward to the year ahead," said Barfield.
This year marks the 100th anniversary celebration of the flowering of the cherry blossom trees in the nation's capital, the 64th anniversary of the Cherry Blossom Princess Educational and Cultural Exchange Program, and the 60th anniversary of the National Conference of State Societies.
Barfield was crowned Miss U.S. Cherry Blossom Queen on Friday, April 13. A current BSU freshman, Barfield was also crowned 2011-2012 Miss BSU Freshman in September 2011. She is studying sociology and works part-time for the U.S. government. She hopes to work in civil service upon graduation.