Friends and family of contestants surrounded the main stage of the London Strawberry Festival Thursday for the 2017 Miss Strawberry Pageant.
A score of young girls competed in the event this year. For the first time, the pageant is open to those outside of Madison County. This year’s girls either needed to attend a Madison County school, live in the county or attend school at Miami Trace, Fairbanks, Mechanicsburg, Southeastern, Northeastern, South-Western, Hilliard, Dublin, Westfall, Greenview, Washington Court House or Marysville school districts.
The contestants assembled at the main stage Thursday evening to be seen and heard by the judges. Despite technical difficulties, things went along smoothly. Towards the end of the competition, some of the winners were announced.
The night finished with the Miss Strawberry competition for the title of Strawberry Queen, which was between four contestants: Cayla Thompson, Constance Baker, Kristen Burgoon and Savannah Ison.
The first contestant was Thompson, 15, a London High School sophomore, was first attendant in 2016s Junior Miss competition. She said she wants to join the United States Marine Corps or the Army, following in her Navy serviceman father’s footsteps by being the second person among her siblings to join the military.
Already involved in community service, she said she plans on working on an anti-bullying campaign in London, stating she had been a victim of bullying herself.
After her was Baker, 14, who will be attending London High School as a freshman. Originally from Columbus, her family moved around quite a bit before settling down in London. She enjoys musical theater and has interest in engineering as a member of the robotics club at London. She said her biggest passion in life are animals, particularly horses and hopes to be a veterinarian.
As a community service project, she hopes to work on helping less fortunate people from having to get rid of pets due to financial worries by organizing pet food drives.
Ison, 14, will also be attending London as a freshman this year and was second attendant for the junior contest in 2016. She is a member of the Champaign County 4-H Club, Saddle Up. She attends fairs with her horse Tyrone where she likes to compete and makes new friends in the local equestrian community.
For her community service project, she wants to get the community to help at-risk children with family members who suffer from drug and alcohol addiction.
Finally, Burgoon, 17, who attends Madison-Plains and Tolles took the stage. She is also heavily involved with 4-H, where she deliver flowers annually to senior citizens. She also participates yearly in the county fair, showing hogs and chickens.
She wants to get community members out to bring company to senior citizens, whom she feels are often forgotten.
The winner will have the opportunity to travel the state of Ohio, attending festivals, luncheons and parades. In addition to a crown, embroidered sash and roses, each queen will receive a scholarship after their reign ends in 2018 along with other prizes. All contestants receive a trophy and certificate.
The winner of the title of 2017 Strawberry Queen will be announced on the main stage, today, Saturday after the parade, which starts with the lineup at 4 p.m.
Maximilian Kwiatkowski can be reached at 740-852-1616, ext. 1617 or on Twitter @MSFKwiat.