THIS year’s National Carnival Queen Pageant is expected to raise the bar in terms of quality and spin-offs of the show. As organizers are telling it, the show might well serve as the new standard for many years to come.
The eight contestants vying for the glittery tiara this year were sashed on Tuesday evening at Sandals Halcyon. They are as follows:
• Anya Edwin – Miss Piton
• Francillia Austin – Miss Digicel
• Denise Nelson – Miss Flow
• Yvanna David – Miss Nagico Insurances
• BibiannaMangal – Miss Columbus Business Solutions
• Khadija Mason – Miss Boka Group
• Ayana Alexander – Miss Super J
• Laura Bruce – Miss Saint Lucia Tourist Board
This year’s National Carnival Queen Pageant will be held on Saturday, July 4. Meanwhile, the eight contestants will make their first public appearance at the official launch of Saint Lucia Carnival slated for Samaans Park tomorrow afternoon.
Deputy Chairperson/Head Chaperone of the National Carnival Queen Pageant Committee, Paula Theophilus, said the pageant has over the decades been able to transform the lives of many of its contestants. As such, she said, one of the crucial tasks the committee faces is ensuring that the overall performance of the pageant continues to improve so as to ensure viability.
Theophilus said that while last year’s pageant was a success, the incoming committee was challenged by the Carnival Planning & Management Agency (CPMA) to up their game. Of the eight sponsors, Nagico Insurances, Boka Group, Columbus Business Solutions and Flow are first-timers. With sponsorship being a key factor in sustaining the pageant, Theophilus said completing the candidate selection process earlier than usual was a priority.
“This sashing ceremony, which was traditionally held one week or so before the competition, is taking place at what may be the earliest it ever has in the history of hosting this event,” Theophilus said. “This enables us to give more visibility and value for money to our sponsors and also to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the preparation of these eight young ladies for what will be a spectacular night of beauty, talent and intelligence.”
Theophilus said the selection process was a rigid one in the form of two auditions open to applicants island-wide. Applicants underwent a screening process before a panel of judges to whom they showcased their talents, introductory speeches, swimwear and evening dresses. They were also asked questions based on information contained in the biographies all applicants were asked to submit. Theophilus said patrons can expect something bigger and better at this year’s pageant.
“We are all very satisfied with the contestants we present to their sponsors tonight,” Theophilus said. “This year, we dare to be different and to raise the bar in keeping with what is expected of us.”
Minister for Tourism, heritage and the Creative Industries, Lorne Theophilus and CPMA Chairman, Lyndon Arnold, both had encouraging words for the eight contestants. They told the contestants to use the opportunity not only to become brand ambassadors for their sponsors but also to become better all-round individuals.