The stage was lit up with the smiles and dreams of young ladies to the delight of their families and friends Saturday night. Fourteen girls competed for the title of their age category at the 2006 Miss Dearing Mayfest Pageant held at Dearing Elementary School.
"I was very impressed with the girls, their poise, their presence and their speaking ability," said Jimi Lane, one of the four judges. "I've done pageants for years, and Dearing has some very talented girls to be the future leaders."
Katie McNeal adjusts her crown Saturday night.
Katie McNeal, daughter of Teresa and Con O'Neill, was crowned Miss Dearing Mayfest. Kendall Dailey, daughter of Diane and Eddie McGahee, was crowned Junior Miss Dearing Mayfest. And Taelor Newsome, daughter of Angie and Joey Newsome, was crowned Little Miss Dearing Mayfest.
The program included the singing talents of David Rush, who performed as Garth Brooks and was Master of Ceremonies; and, Tammy Sutton sang "In My Daughter's Eyes" and "Not Just a Pretty Face." Mistress of Ceremonies was Liz Humphrey.
Several of the Little Miss contestants, adorned with lace and satin and curls in their hair, were overcome with stage fright. However, they received much encouragement from the approximately 150 members of the audience.
The older contestants were first presented modeling sportswear. The talent competition followed with entries including self-written poetry recitation, singing, tap dancing, a flag routine and a cheerleading tumble routine.
"We were entertained ... and pleasantly surprised by the magnitude of their talents," Ms. Humphrey said.
An interview session followed with the girls modeling their evening gowns. Each contestant was asked how she could help improve the community. Answers were as varied as the talent.
"I want to see people get as interested in fine arts as they are in sports," said Meghan Sutton.
Other improvement ideas included more parental involvement in the school, "sprucing up the town" and a recycling program in the community and the school. Katie said she thinks Dearing needs a park for children, restaurants, playground drinking fountains and more opportunities for softball.
"We already have a field, I'd like us to use it more. I'd like to see a night where girls can get together to play softball, not only as competitive teams, but play just for fun," Katie said.
The audience continued to clap and cheer throughout the evening, obviously enjoying the performances.
"I think it's so good that we have this, and they did so good considering it's their first one. It's really a good time," said Tonya Griffin, who is Meghan's aunt.
In the Little Miss Mayfest category, ages 4-6, Grace O'Neil was third runner-up, Kaeliegh Beasley was second runner-up, and Natalie Peebles was first runner up. For Junior Miss Mayfest, ages 7-12, Virginia Beasley was first runner-up. For Miss Mayfest, ages 13-19, Elizabeth Watson was third runner-up, Candace Johnson was second runner-up and Megan McMichael was first runner-up.
Miss Photogenic, the judges choice award, was presented to Candace Johnson. Miss Congeniality, chosen by her peers, was Elizabeth Watson.
Winners received flowers from Richard's Florist and gifts from Pink Chocolate Gifts and Gear.
Other participants were Brittany Reeves, Meghan Sutton, Stephanie Gibson and Amber Smith.
Judges were Jimi Lane, design consultant with Martina's Florist; Mary Redwood, technology teacher from Richmond County School System; and Jackie Lowe, paraprofessional with Columbia County School System.
Auditors for the evening were Vicki Gheesling of Thomson High School and Kim Cason of The Warrenton Clipper. The pageant was organized by Liz Humphrey.
"Each contestant was indeed a winner for participating in the event by their support of the community. We feel that each and every one of the girls were winners and we are proud of them all," Ms. Humphrey said.