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Fort teen captures fair queen crown

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Thursday morning she was sitting in the emergency room at La Verendrye Hospital here.

That night she was being crowned the 2016 Emo Fair Queen.

Harleigh Brow-Rose of Fort Frances was a real trooper last week—when the majority of the queen contestant activities took place—and it obviously paid off.

“I’m pretty excited even though I’m sick,” the 17-year-old said after receiving her crown and posing for photos with First Princess Taylor McQuaker and Second Princess Janissa Judson upstairs at the Emo Arena.

Brow-Rose said she started feeling poorly on Monday, the day of the queen candidates’ supper and fashion show. By Thursday morning, she decided to seek medical attention.

In fact, due to a sore throat, she was unable to vocalize her entertainment selection prior to the crowning, in which she put together a go-kart motor.

Her sponsor, Jay Supinski of Jay’s Auto, helped out by describing what she was doing.

And while that may seem like an unusual talent to perform, it showcased the teen’s interest perfectly as she plans to attend Confederation College next fall to study to become a heavy-duty mechanic.

Brow-Rose admitted it never was a dream of hers to be the Emo Fair Queen. But when she was asked to run by 2015 queen Caitlin Anderson, she thought it sounded interesting.

“I’m really glad she asked me,” she enthused. “I’ve had a lot of fun this summer.”

She added running for fair queen also helped her gain more self-confidence.

“I realized I can do anything I set my mind to,” she stressed.

Brow-Rose noted she was planning to go home after her big win and get some rest.

“I’m hoping I will feel better soon,” she remarked, noting she still had to participate in Saturday’s parade.

Meanwhile, the judges of this year’s competition said they had an extremely difficult time evaluating the four contestants.

“They are a very enthusiastic group of ladies,” remarked Lisette Wilson, whose granddaughter was a contestant in 2014.

“They should all be proud.

“It’s challenging to put yourself out there,” Wilson added. “But it’s a great opportunity to grow their character and accomplishments.”

Dayle Allan, a mom of two First Princesses from previous years, said being a judge was one of the most difficult things she’s done in a long time.

“You want to give them what they deserve,” she reasoned.

BillieJo Dittaro, another mom of a former First Princess, said having seen it from both sides now, she understands the challenge the judges face.

“It’s a lot of hard work for the girls but it’s so difficult to judge it,” she noted.

Taylor Pelepetz, the 2009 Emo Fair Queen, said she knows exactly how the girls are feeling, especially because there also was just four contestants the year she ran.

“We really would have liked to have more girls,” stressed pageant organizer Laura McCormick, noting it was quite a struggle to secure enough contestants for this year’s competition.

She said when just four girls are competing, one won’t get a crown, so organizers prefer to have more contestants so one isn’t singled out at that end.

“But it is a competition,” McCormick reasoned. “It would just be nice to have a bigger group.”

Still, McCormick was pleased to see the four contestants span the district, with two from Emo, one from Barwick, and one from Fort Frances.

“It seems teenagers are getting busier and busier so it’s difficult some years to find the contestants,” conceded McCormick, noting she would love to see seven or eight vying for the crown next year.

McCormick and the reigning royalty start looking for contestants in May so if anyone is interested, that’s when they should contact her (482-2284).

The fair queen pageant, which is open to girls aged 14-17 who live in Rainy River District, is much more than about beauty.

Rather, the annual contest focuses on the competitors’ personality, attitude, and involvement in the community.

The contestants are judged on the following categories: banner (which they must make themselves), a personal interview with the judges, the fashion show, their parade float, and their performance in the entertainment program.

While preparing for these events, the four also participated in local parades, visited residents at Rainycrest, stopped by the Borderland Racing Association’s stock car races, and volunteered at the fairgrounds.

“Our goal is that they come out of it with a good experience; doing something they maybe thought they couldn’t do,” McCormick remarked.

“We hope they learn something about themselves and their community, and maybe take on some new goals they hadn’t thought of before.”

And McCormick said she saw the four contestants grow over the course of the summer.

“I saw a real change in their comfort level and confidence,” she remarked. “They were really organized and helpful to each other.

“They are a great group of girls.”

The various category winners were as follows:

  • Banners—1. Harleigh Brow-Rose 2. Taylor McQuaker 3. Meagan Anderson
  • Interviews—1. Harleigh Brow-Rose 2. Taylor McQuaker 3. Janissa Judson
  • Fashion Show—1. Taylor McQuaker 2. Janissa Judson 3. Meagan Anderson
  • Floats—1. Janissa Judson 2. Meagan Anderson 3. Taylor McQuaker
  • Entertainment—1. Meagan Anderson 2. Taylor McQuaker/Harleigh Brow-Rose (tie) 3. Janissa Judson

McQuaker also earned the title of Miss Congeniality while the Dorothy Bonot Award was presented to Anderson.

Prior to the entertainment event and queen crowning was the annual Mini-King and Mini-Queen contest, which saw five girls and three boys vying for the titles this year.

Callum Galusha was crowned Mini-King, with Vayda Steele being named Mini-Queen.

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