Audiences flocked to the former location of the Lumberyard to cheer on the talents of five young ladies and one young man in the 2019 St. John Festival Royalty Selection Pageant Saturday, and after a long evening of grace, talent, and creativity, 18-year-old Lenisha Richards was crowned the 2019 Miss St. John Festival Queen.
Tamyra Bartlette, 13, was crowned Junior Miss St. John Festival and, as the only contenders for their titles, Lemuel Liburd III and Elizabeth Farrell were crowned the 2019 St. John Festival Prince and Princess.
Richards also won Miss Photogenic, Miss Cooperative, Best International Wear/Talent, and Best Evening Wear. Her fellow contestant, Zakiyah Gregoire, was voted Miss Congeniality and Miss Intellect.
In the junior competition, Bartlette won Miss Photogenic, Miss Congeniality, Best Caribbean Flower Costume, Best Ambassadorial Presentation/Talent, Miss Intellect, and Best Prom Wear. Her counterpart, contestant Je’Nique Sylvester, won Miss Cooperative.
In celebration of the 65th anniversary, this year’s pageant featured some special performances and presentations, such as the reintroduction of the Junior Miss title. The last Junior Miss St. John Festival was crowned in 2014, so Bartlette will be expected to hold her crown for at least five years.
The event also featured dance performances from former St. John Royalty such as 2015 Miss St. John Festival Queen Kyrelle Thomas, 2016 Miss St. John Festival Queen Steffi Nicholas, and 2017 Miss St. John Festival Queen Jeminie Niles.
These queens returned to the stage later on to be formally introduced to the audience. Joining them was the reigning Miss CAHS LaMonee Morris and V.I. Carnival Queen S’Ence Watley, 2013 St. John Festival Princess Faith Marie Sweeney, 1993 St. John Prince Reynaldo Oquendo and other queens prior to the 1990s.
Sheldon Turnbull of 107.9 Da Vybe was master of ceremonies.
The show combined three pageants into one, with separate categories for each title. All contestants participated in a variation of the evening-wear and talent segment. This enabled the contestants to cut back on the resources they needed to compete. The prince and princess contenders competed as a couple.
In the sportswear segment, the prince and princess contenders were challenged with accurately depicting a sport while modeling an accompanying costume. In their presentation, they depicted drag racing with matching gear and an entrance on to the stage in a motorized car.
In the Caribbean Flower Costume segment, the junior miss contestants were challenged with modeling a costume styled after a local flower. Sylvester depicted a bougainvillea, a vibrant flower that can often be found near Gallows Bay, and Bartlette chose a hibiscus, which is a staple ingredient in local drinks such as hibiscus punch and sorrel.
The festival queen contestants were judged in the swimwear segment during that section of the show.
In the Cartoon Character/Talent segment, the prince and princess contenders were expected to showcase a talent by using a cartoon, movie, or storybook character of their choice.
Farrell and Liburd performed a skit as Ariel and Sebastien from the Little Mermaid. In it, the duo explored the food and culture on offer during St. John Festival, and they danced, sang, played the steel pan, and did a costume change into moko jumbies.
In the ambassadorial presentation/talent segment, the junior miss contestants were judged on their ability to perform a talent that showcases the beauty and culture of St. John.
Sylvester’s presentation was styled as a skit in which a travel agent sends a possible tourist a video advertising the beauty St. John. On stage, Sylvester performed a fan dance to evoke the flowing waters of St. John beaches, sang ‘What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong, recited a poem about the importance of respecting the environment, and performed a short dance and gymnastics routine to “Famalay” by Machel Montano.
Bartlette’s presentation had her take the role of a tour guide taking the audience to several focal points on St. John such as the Annaberg Ruins, Trunk Bay, and Gwen’s Kitchen. She performed a rendition of “Do It and Done” by Pressure Busspipe on the steel pan, and some choreography that incorporated Bamboula.
in the international wear/talent segment, the festival queen contestants had to perform a talent that showcases the culture of another country.
Gregoire themed her presentation on significant monarchs of Ancient Egypt. Throughout her choreography, she portrayed the Egyptian queens Merneith, Cleopatra VII, Nefertiti, and Hatshepsut.
Richards themed her presentation on Ancient China. She sang in Mandarin, danced with scarves and fans, and showcased the dragon dance with an elaborate dragon headpiece. Her performance also featured the release of fireworks in the nearby harbor.
All participants in the pageant underwent an evening-wear type segment that judged them on their ability to model a gown or tuxedo. They were also judged in their poise and appropriateness of wear.
Liburd and Farrel wore a matching gown and tuxedo set that heavily featured the colors yellow and white with Swarovski crystals adorning sections of Farrell’s bodice and Liburd’s jacket.
The junior miss contestants had a prom-wear segment that had them wear knee-length dresses instead of the traditional floor-length gowns worn in most pageants.
Sylvester wore a blue 1920s inspired dress ornamented with lace and small crystals. Bartlette wore a bright orange dress with crystals running through the middle.
Festival queen contestants underwent the evening-wear segment in its traditional form.
Gregoire wore a striking red gown with a high slit, false mesh along the side and back, and countless crystals. Richard wore an unconventional pink gown with removable ruffles, false mesh, and crystals all along the bodice.
Only the contestants for junior miss contestants and festival queen underwent a question and answer segment. For the queen contestants, their scores were added to scores they received in a personal interview that had been held prior to the pageant. Due to the size and arrangement of the venue, all contestants received their own question.
Sylvester was asked to state one good thing social media has done for her generation and one bad thing.
Bartlette was asked what suggestions she would give to the governor to improve on the activities available to the young people of St. John.
Gregoire was asked how she would balance the responsibilities of Miss St. John Festival Queen with school, work, and the rest of her life.
Richards was asked what qualities and skillsets she would look for in candidates for the Senate, the governorship, and delegate to Congress since she is now of age to start voting.
Before the announcement of the winners, the audiences got to see the final walks of 2017 Miss St. John Festival Queen Chenijah Dawson, 2017 Festival Princess A’mrii Jones, and the 2014 Junior Miss St. John Festival P’Azhae Harrigan.
The current schedule for the 2019 St. John Festival is as follows:
1 p.m. Sunday, June 23, the Coronation of Royalty and the Festival Food Fair will commence.
The Festival Boat Races will be held near the Cruz Bay harbor at 3 p.m. that same day.
7 p.m. Festival Village opens, Cruz Bay Parking Lot.
6 p.m., the Children’s Village, sponsored by the St. John Rotary Club, will open at the small parking lot next to the National Park Ballfield starting June 29.
1 p.m., Festival Emancipation Program at the Cruz Bay Customs parking lot. St. Johnians are already in rehearsal for the traditional play that commemorates the day of July 3, 1848, when slavery was abolished.
6 p.m., Festival Torchlight Parade, Cruz Bay Customs parking lot.
Sunrise, J’ouvert in the V.I. National Park.
9 p.m., Fireworks, Cruz Bay Harbor.
5 p.m., Wet Fete in Frank Powell Park.
Noon, Poker Run, Cruz Bay Harbor.