Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Miss Lake Festival Photos and *MY* Take!

Surprise! I’m home for a visit and attended Miss Lake Festival Monday night.

I’ve been in LA for almost 5 months and my parents have been really complaining lately that I need to come home for a visit. Between the fact that beau, Loren, has taken two trips to see me and I have a friend getting married this weekend, it was indeed my turn to take a plane ride.

A couple LA friends have agreed that going home is not at all relaxing because everyone wants a piece of your time, so I decided to tell as few people as possible that I was coming because surprises are fun and hopefully it’ll be less stressful!

I flew in Sunday and knew my parents had tickets to Miss Lake Festival Monday night; on the way from Toledo and Celina Loren and I stopped to pick up my niece. We arrived at the Celina Field House to, luckily, find my parents sitting on the end of their row. I sent my niece to tap on their shoulder and watched from a few feet back. She’s six. It was hilarious to see my parents look at her in confused disbelief asking, “How did you get here?”

My mom moved faster than I’ve ever seen and plowed over my dad to get out of her seat when she turned around and saw us. Their reaction made my stiff neck from the airplane totally worth it!

So as for the pageant…

I considered writing some constructive feedback for each contestant, since I only know one of them and can therefore be completely subjective. However, I don’t think that would serve much of a purpose because most Lake Festival contestants don’t go on to do other pageants and I highly doubt they know of me or my blog.

Rather, here’s the contestant order, a tad more about them and comments of a more general nature.

1. Megan Perkeybile

Megan sang “When I Look at You” from The Scarlett Pimpernel. (That info was not on the website.) She placed last year and I really thought she might again, which supports the theory that you have to do 10% more than your toughest competition when your contestant number one.

2. Eryn Langenkamp

Eryn’s platform had something to do with Youth Physical Fitness.

3, Brittney McGee

Brittney’s going into Nursing at Wright State University. Mercer County readers may remember Kristen Loughridge, a Celina grad who placed the year Katie McMurray won; Brittney really resembled Kristen at certain angles, especially during Evening Gown. Just a random thought…

4. Brook Shinn

Brook’s platform has to do with Mentoring. She is a beautiful young woman with a very perfect Barbie doll type look with her blonde hair. For Evening Gown she wore a puffy white ball gown that makes you think princess or wedding cake topper. It was a strapless beaded bodice with a thick pink ribbon around the waist that led to a butt bow. The skirt was full white tulle. It was very pretty and people sitting around me ooed and awed. However, I can’t help but caution other Miss contestants against gown choices like this. Yes, you’re supposed to wear what make you feel great and this contestant exuded that, but it screamed “Teen pageant.” I think you have to ask yourself, can I be crowned in this? This dress could win a teen or kiddie pageant all day long, but not today’s Miss America.

5. Kelsey Wenning

Kelsey’s platform had to do with Drug and Alcohol Prevention. For talent she played The Little Mermaid theme on a flute; it’s by no means a technically difficult song but the performance was intriguing because she’s a red head, she wore a cute green cocktail dress and started the song sitting on a fake rock decorated with a net and sea shells. When the music picked up she stood and did a few well timed dance moves, playing to the judges and the audience. I know, I know, a red head doing The Little Mermaid and a set piece for an instrumental performance sounds pretty cheesy, but she did it so well, it was the best talent to that point! Throwing a gimmick on top of a weak to average talent usually just makes it worse, but this young lady epitomized part of what they say the judges are scoring in the talent competition, a well rehearsed, cohesive presentation.

6. Devon Stansbury

I can’t give an objective opinion of Devon. Our parents have always known one another (partially inevitable, as her mom runs the local funeral home!) and when I was in junior high and high school singing in all the area talent contests Devon was doing them too as one of the five thousand elementary age dancers! I was the first woman from our high school to win Lake Festival and we always said I’d help Devon become one of the next. The fact that she’s finally pageant age makes me feel so old! Anyway, her platform is Helping Kids Kope: something about children of divorced parents.

She did a lyrical dance, which I obviously didn’t help her with and had never seen; again, I’m biased, but I thought it was amazing. It was a very emotional piece and reminded me of Ashley Hartman’s dance, which I also love. Devon wore my old teal swimsuit. Teal is still a really hot color; there were three other swimsuits in that shade. I was surprised though, that she and the previously described cake topper were the only contestants in white gowns, a usual pageant staple.

Oh, also, Devon wore one of three “trendy” interview outfits. She and her mom found it in Florida; it was fitted black skirt, from the bust up it looked like a cute collared shirt with cap sleeves, but the bodice looked like a white corset-type piece with cute buttons and black pocket flaps. I know “corset” may turn some of you off, but I don’t know how else to describe it, it wasn’t sexy, but rather cute and “trendy professional.” I only saw it from the audience, but my mom saw it on the hanger and didn’t even use the word “corset” when telling me about it. The other two outfits were a high waisted black pin-strip skirt with a skinny black belt and a cute white button down and a simply, classy grey sheath dress with a belt. (Now that I see the photos, I'm happy to point out that it was the winner in the cute grey dress!) I thought those three looked great. There were also two train wrecks, one pants suit and the rest were boring skirt suits.

7. Sarah Pierstorff

Sarah’s platform is Committed to Purity. She had the same fate at Miss Lake Festival two years in a row – First Runner-up and Talent winner. That has to be difficult, but she is an example of someone with a very strong talent but is very stiff in gown and swimsuit. I honestly though Devon would place higher based on consistency, interview not withstanding. I’ve said it before, you should never simply rely on your strongest phase of competition. She rightfully won talent, but I have to comment that her choice to sing the popular “Queen of the Night” aria in English seemed odd to me. When you’re singing that high and in an operatic style, you can’t understand the words anyway, so in my opinion you may as well, more impressively, always sing opera in its native language. I don’t actually recall other pageant versions of this song, but it seemed odd to me that hers did not conclude on one of the crazy high notes. As a student of music I respect and understand that amazing endings are not always true to the original work, but come on, it’s a pageant! Unless it’s only two minutes to begin with, you already desolated the song by cutting it to two minutes, why not end it on a high note? (Literally and figuratively.) FYI, she wore the same evening gown Heather Wells wears, a teal halter with silver stones erupting from the midsection.

8. Megan Gerlach

The website said she’d dance to “It Is You,” but she actually danced to “Here I Come” by Fergi. Isn’t that the CW theme song? At first it energized the audience, but quickly lost steam and I feel maybe it was too ghetto for a pageant… Something for dancers to be careful of, and all contestants for that matter, as you balance finding what the “new, hip Miss America” means for you with that fact that it’s still a pageant!

9. Kyla Metzger

Kyla’s platform is “Ace Your Life,” something about building character. Kyla fell victim to what could be called the Grand Lake diet… She became sick due to a parasite from the water and lost 12 pounds the week before the pageant!

10. Ashley Kanney

Her platform deals with promoting an understanding of O.C.D. The website didn’t list Ashley’s talent, it was a vocal to “Orange Colored Sky.” Ashley and Jodi Green are the only two pageant women I can think of who actually have the right type of voice to pull this song off. That being said, I wish Musical Creations would stop selling it and contestants would STOP SINGING IT! I watched her performance pondering two things: Is that former Miss Lake Festival Pam Roessner-Ranly and then Marissa Minor’s old talent dress? And how does an 18 year old even know of the song “Orange Colored Sky?” It is just one of those songs that is so cliché, outdated and overdone! It doesn’t show your personality – it only shows that you bought the album “Top Ten Two Minute Pageant Hits!”

Anyway… it was Pam/Marissa’s dress; she also looked lovely in Marissa’s teal and white swimsuit and teal and black evening gown.

11. Ellen Bryan

Ellen looked even prettier than her headshot; instead of brown and curled, her hair was shorter, straightened and blond-ish. Overall her stage presence and beauty was striking, and not at all captured in the photographs. Although I was pulling for my girl, Devon, Ellen was the clear winner throughout the pageant. She just had that elusive, indescribable “IT” about her. She was not the best in talent, gown or swimsuit, but she was clearly the winner thanks to her confidence, beauty and height. (Onstage question at this pageant seemed to go faster than normal and took place first, so I wasn’t really keeping track yet. At the end when she was given both the Private and Onstage Interview awards, all bets were off!) I don’t recall, and it’s not in the program, but my dad thought they said she’s a sophomore at Ball State, which explains her maturity over the other contestants, most of whom were recent high school graduates.

As a former Miss Lake Festival, I feel I can speak bluntly – because the pageant is closed to one county, Miss Lake Festivals are often not as polished as other Miss Ohio contestants. I believe Erica Gelhaus was the first Miss Lake Festival to ever make the Top 10 as Miss Lake Festival, let alone be First Runner-up to the State crown. As I have defended on the message board, it is a program with great community support and high scholarship dollars, from which many successful Miss Ohio contestants have come. Erica’s wonderful talent, height and IT quality offset her lack of pageant experience; if she finds the right talent song, I think Ellen’s similar height and IT-ness could get her noticed next summer in Mansfield too!

Another note from the pageant…

Almost all the contestants said “Thank you, Heather” after they answered their onstage question. As a contestant, I know it feels kind of awkward if you don’t say anything and it’s confusing because people adamantly argue both for and against saying it… I’ve always been on the fence, but as of tonight I’m taking a stand! It’s more annoying than “Orange Colored Sky!” Maybe it’s because most of tonight’s contestants sounded like insincere robots, “Thank you, Heather,” “Thank you, Heather,” “Thank you, Heather,” or maybe it’s because when you stop and think about it, it just doesn’t make logical sense. In real life we don’t usually thank someone for thanking us and rarely would someone asking that kind of question respond to your answer by saying “thank you” in the first place! Sure, someone says thanks if they asked you for directions, but not when they ask about your life’s passion, intended career or opinion on abortion! It’s more unnatural than the four inch heels in bikinis! I smell a pageant poll about this topic…

Although there was double the need amount of entertainment and filler, as always, it was a nice show. My mom noted that former Miss Ohio, Sarah (Evans) Tackett is one of the best pageant emcees she's ever seen, with her calm, knowledgeable, likable delivery.

I tried to describe the crowd to Loren, but he agreed you just have to see it... It's comparable to that at Miss Ohio, but in a basketball arena istead of a theatre. Sadly there weren't many "special guests" to be announced onstage. No local E.D.s or titleholders were in attendance; Miss Ohio 2004 Amanda Beagle and Field Director Kim Saunders were introduced, as well as a Miss Lake Festival from the 70s and I; another former, Suzanne Murlin waved from the judges table.

[Photos by Mark Pummell from The Daily Standard.]


  1. Miss Lake Festival made top ten back in the mid 1990's Cherine Dabis was her name and she performed a lyrical dance. FYI... :-)

  2. Aw, good to know! Thank you!


  3. Abby,

    She does look like Kristen L! I didn't notice until you pointed it out. I knew Ellen's sister, Kristina, from high school - she comes from a really nice family that's been through a lot. I wasn't surprised to hear that she nailed interview. Yea Ellen!


  4. Abby, I must say that Devon's face in her swimsuit pic just screams, "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia"! LOL! Only those who know Devon and her mom would know what I'm talking about, but I just had to say it. ;)


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