Contestant order and Talent selection:
Lauren Hogan- Broadway vocal to “My Strongest Suit” from Aida
Susan Downings- Flute performance to “My Heart Will Go On”
Jillian Dansko- Tap dance to “Drums”
Whitney Fricke- Vocal to “Orange Colored Sky”
Sylvia Macias- Classic Hispanic dance
Tiffany Westfall- Broadway vocal to “Defying Gravity” from Wicked
Brittany Taylor- Live charcoal sketch to “Walkin’ on Sunshine”
Brandi Drain- Vocal to “Remember Me This Way”
Dani Bash- Harp performance to “Moondance”
Erica Gelhaus- Classical Vocal to “Sapor Vorreste”
Mary Boyde- A member of the Fort Defiance Players board who holds a Masters Degree in Engineering.
Ted Callie- A former committee member of the original Miss West Central Ohio program who holds a BA from Wright State; he has been a letter carrier for 23 years and has 9 years piano experience.
Sue Swinehart- She is experienced in dance, piano and flute, and has been involved in the Miss Ohio program for over 20 years.
Thomas Stuckie- He is the president of Northwest State Community College, and holds a PhD. in Administration from Bowling Green State University.
Kelly Creager Gilson- A former Miss Northwestern Ohio and Miss Ohio 1998. She is an experienced spokesperson and model who holds a BA in Education from Ohio Northern University.
Jeff Leonard- He is the Defiance City Administrator and holds a BA from Bowling Green State University
Heather Hall- A former board member for the Miss Lake Erie program, she holds a Master in Special Education from Bowling Green State University.
As usual, Randy Schroeder and his crew put on an excellent show to the theme "Cruisin' to the Crown," featuring emcees Mark Schnitkey and Becky Minger, the Defiance Dance Studio and Varsity Blues vocal ensemble. The Perkins Award to honor volunteerism to the Miss Northwestern Ohio Program went to production assistant Janice Johansen.
As I mentioned below with the results, this is the second year in a row that Miss Northwestern Ohio had been the First Runner-up at her first try at Miss Ohio. (Becky had been First Runner-up as Miss Greater Dayton prior to representing Northwestern Ohio and this past summer Erica was First Runner-up as Miss Lake Festival.) Also, for a third time in Four years Miss Northwestern Ohio is a native of Mercer County and former Miss Lake Festival. In 2004 I won the title via my eligibility as a student of Bowling Green State University (in Wood County). The next year the pageant extended its boundaries to include Mercer County and Marissa Minor was crowned. For the first time in its 32 year history, this year the pageant became open to any eligible woman in Ohio; I believe 2nd Runner-up Jillian Dansko was the only contestant from outside the traditional Northwestern Ohio county radius to take advantage of this.
To be blunt about the contestants, there was a stark contrast between the experience of Erica, Lauren and Jillian and the others. However, there is great potential among the group. Brittany Taylor managed to make a non-traditional talent (drawing) intriguing and entertaining and I have to commend Sylvia Macias’ continuity; her platform is Teen Pregnancy Prevention among Hispanics and she performed a classic Hispanic dance in traditional dress.
Photos [click each to enlarge]
Above left: Erica wins Talent; right: Lauren is awarded 3rd Runner-up. Below left: Jillian wins 2nd Runner-up; right: Dani is 1st Runner-up.
Below left: Erica's winning reaction; right: Becky crowns her the new Miss Northwestern Ohio.
My "Official" Write-up
Saturday night in Defiance ten contestants were “Cruisin’ to the Crown,” but only one could be named the new Miss Northwestern Ohio. She is St. Henry native Erica Gelhaus.
Erica is a Music Performance major at Otterbein College; she won the Outstanding Talent Award for her performance of Verdi’s aria “Sapor Vorreste.” She swept the pageant, also winning the Outstanding Interview Award. Erica stresses the importance of making time to read with children through her platform, “Turning the Page for Youth Literacy.”
This is Erica’s second local title having been the First Runner-up to Miss Ohio as Miss Lake Festival this past summer. As the First Runner-up she went on to represent the Buckeye state in Hoopeston Illinois where she competed against about thirty other runners-up and was awarded the title National Sweetheart. (The National Sweetheart pageant is run like Miss America, but is not officially affiliated. It is designed to provide a national pageant experience, and does not restrict its winner from holding other titles.)
This marks the second year in a row that Miss Northwestern Ohio is a former state First Runner-up. Erica was crowned by former First Runner-up Becky Minger. Becky, a vocalist attending Bowling Green State University; she won her third local title, Miss Maumee Valley, barely a week prior to crowning Erica. Also, Erica is the third former Miss Lake Festival in four years to also be named Miss Northwestern Ohio.
The First Runner-up was Dani Bash. Dani is a harpist from Findlay who advocates Arts Education. This was her first pageant of the season.
Second Runner-up, Jillian Dansko, is a tap dancer and graduate of John Carroll University. Her platform is Arts for the Disabled. Jillian is looking for her fourth local title; she has placed at two previous pageants this season.
Lauren Hogan was awarded Third Runner-up. Her platform is “Risky Business;” she is a vocalist and graduate of Bowling Green State University. Lauren recently gave up her first local title and this was her first pageant of the season.
Fourth Runner-up Whitney Fricke is a vocalist from Archbold. She educates women on self esteem issues through her platform “True Beauty.” This was Whitney’s first pageant of the season.
The remaining contestants included: Susan Downing, Sylvia Macias, Tiffany Westfall, Brittany Taylor and Brandy Drain. The pageant awarded over $3,000 and the prestigious Perkins Award for volunteerism went to production assistant Janice Johansen.