AntFarm volunteer joins ranks of Queen's Court
While Disney has portrayed princesses in a variety of roles — frying pan-wielding damsel, waitress, maid — Princess Melinda Rusaw offers a different perspective. One of the five women chosen for Sandy Mountain Festival's 2019 Queen's Court, Rusaw is well-known in the community for her volunteer work with AntFarm YouthCore, namely as a tutor.
Though a longtime fixture in the Sandy community, Rusaw was surprised to be nominated for the court.
"At first I thought 'Oh, no. I can't do this,'" Rusaw told The Post. "I felt like I wasn't worthy. But I wanted to support the community and the event. I'm very honored. I didn't think of myself in that group."
Rusaw's family has been in the area for decades, but Rusaw has been somewhat uniquely involved among her kin.
"I volunteer a lot with AntFarm, and I believe strongly in what they do," Rusaw said. "I love it being a place for people to come and not have a price tag on it that keeps you away. It's all the things a community needs."
In her adult life, Rusaw has been a homemaker, a laborer with her husband, who is a carpenter, an economics teacher and a published author.
Though she's very involved in the community now, she admitted she used to keep to herself a lot, spending several hours in local coffee shops writing.
"For a long time, my community was the people in my books," Rusaw said.
Ironically, Rusaw published a book called "To Free a Princess" last winter. It is an autobiography with a fairy-tale setting.
"Getting back out into reality has been good for me," Rusaw added. "I love getting out there and seeing the community."
Though Rusaw hasn't been that involved with the Sandy Mountain Festival specifically in the past, she is looking forward to her time on court.
"I'm excited to do things with the court," she noted. "They're lovely ladies. I haven't gone to the parade (that) many times, but I love the festival."
Of course, she's also a big fan of Sandy, one who encourages more people to get out and meet their neighbors and get involved.
"I've wanted to move different places, but (Sandy is) home," Rusaw said. "I love the idea that there's a new generation wanting to make it a community again."
Besides volunteering and performing her royal duties, Rusaw and her husband, Clyde, sing with their best friends in a quartet performing folk songs and Christian music.
Clyde also will escort Rusaw under the name Sir Aria Bear. Rusaw said she chose that name because, "When (Clyde) sings, I forget all my troubles."
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