New Queens Chosen at 28th Annual Pageant

 By Jayna Smith

Miss International Homecoming Festival Queens chosen at the 28th annual pageant last Saturday night.

The 28th annual Miss International Homecoming Festival proved to be a popular event last Saturday evening at Calais High School.  Young ladies from ages 4 and up vied for titles and the right to wear home the crown in their respective age groups.

 Girls from both Maine and New Brunswick were welcomed to join this prestigious tradition.  Judging criteria was based on a private interview with the judges, where contestants had the opportunity to discuss their volunteer activities, hobbies, and views on age-relevant events throughout the world; an on-stage self-introduction which gave each contestant the opportunity to introduce themselves to the audience; a fun modeling competition in an outfit of choice; and the elegant formal wear competition.  

 Contestants were not judged on the expense of their clothing, but rather how they presented themselves on stage with confidence and poise.  Director Dawn Winchester said, "We certainly don't want girls going out and spending lots of money to enter a pageant.  Its definitely encouraged to borrow items from friends or wear something they already own. We just want them to have fun, make some new friends, all while enhancing their public speaking skills and confidence, all traits they will need to use later on in life."  

 And those traits will surely be used during the upcoming festival.  "The pageant's main purpose is to promote volunteerism.  Volunteering is something that has always been instilled in my sisters and me and that's what I strive to do with this pageant.  The girls have already been asked to assist at many events over the International Homecoming Festival so they will be very visible," Winchester said.  "There is much more involved than simply riding in the parade," she added.  

 "When Barbara (Lara) created the pageant 28 years ago, she always donated the proceeds to a worthy cause.  When she asked me to take it on three years ago, I thought it only appropriate to donate proceeds back to the International Homecoming Festival," Winchester explained.  She said once prizes and awards and other necessities are purchased, the rest goes right to the committee.  A $500 donation to festival was made on behalf of the pageant in both 2012 and in 2013.  The pageant is listed on the festival's website as a "Platinum Sponsor," and this year, Winchester believes the amount will be close to the same. 

 "It's no secret the International Homecoming Festival is short on volunteers and on finances.  The girls from the pageant are always eager to help wherever needed and the event organizers are always ecstatic to have them assist.  I am also proud to be able to get the proceeds from the pageant to the committee."

 This year's new La Petite International Homecoming Festival was awarded to Lidia Matarazzo of East Millinocket.  Her first and second princesses were Jenna McFarlane of St. Stephen and Madison Armstrong of Perry, respectively.

 The 2014 Pre-Teen Miss International Homecoming Festival Queen is Eliza Jack of Baileyville.  Chosen as first and second princesses were Mikayla Voutt and Athena Leslie, both of St. George.

 In the Teen age group, Mackenzie Bennett of Calais is the new Teen Miss International Homecoming Festival.  Haley Thornton of East Millinocket and Olivia Lipton of Riverview were chosen as first and second princesses, respectively.

 Rebekah Cox of Jonesboro wore home the crown as Ms. International Homecoming Festival with Brittany Tirrell of Calais chosen as her first princess. 

 More information about the pageant along with additional photos can be found on Facebook at Eastern Maine Pageant.