2007-10-04 / Front Page

Local beauties, families pack remodeled center for Miss Wilkes County

Miss Wilkes County Gracen Ware Miss Wilkes County Gracen Ware Families and friends packed The Pope Center Saturday for the Miss Wilkes County and Little Miss Wilkes County Pageants, as more than 50 young ladies vied for crowns and glory in the first local pageant to be held in years.

"The pageant was a great success," organizer Ashley Barnett said. "It was standing room only! All the girls were absolutely beautiful and I am so proud of all of them for competing. Thank you to the supporters of the contestants, as well, for encouraging them to compete. What an accomplishment just to get on stage in front of people - that's a lot to be proud of!"

The 52 contestants competed in eight age groups, from newborn to 18 years old. Gracen Ware was chosen as Miss Wilkes County, and Madison Porterfield was the judges' choice as Little Miss Wilkes County.

In the Baby Miss class, the Queen was Shamiyha Thornton, who also won Photogenic and Prettiest Smile. Best Dress was won by Addison Baston.

In Toddler Miss, E'Liza Booker was chosen as Queen. 1st Runnerup was Ava Simmons, Prettiest Smile was Andrea Collins, and Ava Simmons won both Best Dress and Photogenic.

In Tiny Miss, Isabella Bradford was crowned Queen, and 1st Runner up was Alexis McLean. Isabella Bradford also took Prettiest Smile, Best Dress, and Photogenic.

Little Miss, the Queen was Madison Porterfield. First Runner-up was Whitney Dawson, 2nd Runner-Up Emily Denard, 3rd Runner-Up Abbey Lin, and 4th Runner-Up Samantha Wheatley. Madison Porterfield was also awarded Prettiest Smile and Best Dress, and Whitney Dawson won the Photogenic award.

Ava Simmons won People's Choice and the award of $430 in prize money.

In Petite Miss, there were no runners up and Lillian Booker was chosen Queen along with the Smile, Fashion, and Photogenic awards.

In Deb Miss, Queen Kathleen Storrin was crowned, with1st runner up: Miranda Crook, 2nd runner up: Destini Long, and 3rd runner up: Madison Hall, who also won Smile and Photogenic awards. Kathleen Storrin won the Smile award.

Kerrie Crookham was crowned Queen in the Teen Miss group, with 1st runner up: Hannah McTier also taking the Smile and Photogenic awards. Kristen Lukich was 2nd Runner Up, and Tabitha Tench was 3rd Runner Up and won the Fashion award. 4th runner up was Angela Matthews.

In the senior group, Miss Wilkes County Queen Gracen Ware also took the prizes for Smile, Fashion, and Photogenic. The Miss Wilkes County 1st runner up was Brittaney Gebing, Whitley Hodges took 2nd Runner up and People's Choice winner of $325. The 3rd runner up was Taylor McAvoy and the 4th runner up was Mary Kate Reeves.

Barnett said that the judges said they had a hard time choosing winners. "It was definitely tough competition. I don't think anybody there wanted to be in the judges' shoes," she said.

The pageant, Barnett said, was the work of many hands. "My mother, Connie Turner, did so much behind the scenes and I could not have done any of this without her help and expertise. And Ed Franklin worked so hard from the beginning to helping direct the pageant. Bradley Barber did an excellent job as the Master of Ceremonies, and we had great entertainment from the Washington Dance Academy dancers and Misty Flynn. And all our sponsors and parents were so wonderful."

The pageant's venue was a big attraction, too, since most people had not seen The Pope Center since its renovation and expansion into a convention center. "The Pope Center is just beautiful," Barnett said, "and it's great to know we have the Pope Center for big events for this many people!"

It was a race to ready the building in time for the pageant, but the Ballroom was beautiful, she said. "Thank you to Peggy Anderson and John Horton with Washington Events Management for their tremendous help. I could not have done it without them."

Barnett says she excited about preparing for next year's pageant. "The Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the pageant staff will be going over things we can do better, and things we might do differently....since this was the first year, it was a learning experience."

As the newly crowned Miss Wilkes County, Gracen Ware will make her first officialappearance on October 13 at the Mule Day Southern Heritage Festival.

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