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8 contestants to vie for livestock festival crown
When violent fierce winds whipped across the roof of the auditorium at the high school back on Jan. 21, the status of many future scheduled events inside the facility were put into question.
Among the events on the calendar that potentially would have to be moved was the annual Screven County Livestock Festival Pageant. However, thanks to the diligent work of construction crews in cooperation with the school system the show will go on at its traditional location.
Tickets prices are $10 in advance and $12 at door. Advance tickets are on sale at Walls Diner, Donna’s Bakery & Deli and Maggie’s Academy of Dance.
The overall theme for the annual Livestock Festival is “It’s A Wonderful World of Livestock,” but the pageant theme is from Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” song “Be Our Guest” as eight students from Screven County High School will be The contestants are Gabi Becton, Bonnie Blackburn, J Canetto, Ansley Dirst, Jaylee Mallard, Cassidy Patrick, Aliyah Tankersley and Cora Wall.
While the 2016 pageant had five seniors, this year’s event has only one – Tankersley, who also happens to be the only senior who will show livestock during the first full week in April at the agricultural center.
Tankersley also is the only contestant who has ever participated in the pageant as she earned second runner-up and “People’s Choice” last year.
Four of the contestants are freshmen -- Becton, Canetto, Mallard and Wall. Wall also will show livestock during the week in April and Becton is the daughter of Huldah Gentry Becton, the 1984 festival queen.
Blackburn, Dirst and Patrick are juniors.
The annual pageant that really kicks off the long-running festival certainly has been a force in the community.
The contestants this year also held a Little Miss Livestock Festival Pageant.
The traditional festival pageant is once again sponsored by the Sylvania Junior Woman’s Club.
McGalliard, the 2016 queen, returns for Saturday night’s performance to crown the queen and perform a special.
The pageant traditionally is a big-time community draw as the winner reigns over the festival that concludes April 6 with the Cow Patty Bingo Contest that follows the lamb and beef show at the Screven County Agricultural Center on Rocky Ford Road.
The annual parade will roll down Main Street in Sylvania April 1 starting at 11 a.m. The Livestock Association Chicken-Q will begin immediately afterwards.
During the night of the pageant, the contestants will compete in western wear, talent and evening gown. An interview with three out-of-town judges will be conducted before the pageant that evening.
Sharon Thomas Milner will again emcee the pageant. Rebecca’s will donate the crown and Mary Joyce’s Florist will donate the flowers. R&D’s Restaurant will provide the meals for the judges.
Jordan Reddick took the contestants’ photographs this year.
The 2017 Ms. Syl-View Helen Shaw and Mr. Syl-View Charlie Jaudon will be honored during the night as will all the past queens.
The Livestock Festival Pageant winner receives a $250 prize, a crown, flowers and an engraved silver tray. She will assist during the festival events, including the exhibitors’ livestock shows at the agricultural center April 8-10.
The new queen also will ride in the April 1 parade as will the runners-up and other contestants.
The first runner-up will receive $175. Second runner-up will receive $150 and the third runner-up will receive $125.
The audience again will have the chance to vote for the “People’s Choice” winner and the contestants have voted for the winner of “Miss Congeniality.”
A Sunday dinner hosted by the Sylvania Junior Woman’s Club was held March 12 for the contestants. At the gathering, the contestants secretly voted for “Miss Congeniality.”
The contestants have been practicing since the first of February – meeting for four hours each Sunday for seven straight Sundays. The week, the contestants are scheduled to meet four times, at three hours a session. Volunteers from the Sylvania Junior Woman’s Club as well as others have helped with the pageant preparation.
The first queen in 1953 was Jerry Smith (Gentry). The first pageant was held one year after the overall festival was started. Also, in 1965 the pageant was canceled.
In the early years of the pageant, the queens were required to ride horses as part of the judges’ selection process.