Shanté Monsanto-Weeks Crowned St. John’s 50th Festival Queen

By Malik Stevens

Shanté Monsanto-Weeks, at left, was named Festival Queen, beating out Abigail Hyndman, above, JahVena Nisbett, above right, and Nanyamka Cagan, at right during an amazing show on Saturday night, June 26.

On Saturday, June 26, St. John was filled with a lot more glitz, glamour and poise than usual as four beautiful young ladies took to the stage vying to be the next  Miss St. John Festival Queen 2010.

Even though the pageant started an hour later than planned and the field was still recovering from a weeks-worth of continuous rainfall, the audience was  filled with many excited spectators to watch Jah’Vena Nisbett, Shanté Monsanto-Weeks, Abigail Hyndman and Nanyamka Cagan display their grace and beauty as they vied for the honor of representing the island as 2010 Miss St. John Festival Queen.

The girls were judged in six categories: a personal interview conducted prior to the show; introduction speech; swimwear; international costume; evening wear; and last but not least, question and answer.

The girls made their first appearance wearing festive yellow and turquoise carnival attire with head pieces adorned with yellow feathers as they danced onto the stage to deliver their introductory speeches.

They were indeed a “kaleidoscope of beauty and fashion” as Contestant #4 Cagan put it.  After bidding the crowd a warm welcome and delivering their speeches, the ladies were joined by the St. John Committee Dancers. The group continued to keep the beat alive, wowing the crowd with their creative movements in a dance choreographed by Lester Warner.

After listening to the contagious rhythms of Spectrum Band, which played between each segment of the show, the pageant continued as the girls individually returned to the stage for the swimwear segment of the show.

Contestant #1 Nisbett during the swimwear segment.

Contestant #1 Nisbett came out in a bi-color sundress which she removed to reveal a pink crystal sequenced monokini, which consisted of a pink bodice paired with a patterned bottom in vibrant orange, beige, gold and brown.

Contestant #2 Monsanto-Weeks came out sporting a turquoise monokini, which was connected by a gold sequence piece of material across her abdomen representing sand, and colorful flowers on her upper left chest and right waist.

Contestant #3 Hyndman also wore a colorfully patterned monokini. With a base color of deep forest green, the swimsuit featured a modern pattern mixed with orange, yellow, black, purple and green.

Contestant #4 Nanyamka donned a pink one-piece, embellished with crystals which one spectator said “she was born to wear.” 
The swimwear segment was followed by the International Costume segment. With each girl representing a different country and culture of people, the category was truly a highlight of the night. Nisbett portrayed a Native American. Wearing a yellow, black and gold tunic-style dress, Nisbett entered the stage to the sounds of a historical reading about the Iroquois Indian tribe, before enticing the crowd with a Native American-inspired dance.

Monsanto-Weeks portrayed Brazil with her costume, which was a yellow two-piece ensemble adorned with leaves and a yellow ruffled skirt with an extravagant headpiece which held a original hand-made Toucan bird. She then broke out into the Samba which she dedicated to the African slaves’ history of Brazil.

Above: Abigail F. Hyndman won the “International Wear” category.

Contestant #3 Hyndman was a crowd-pleaser as she came out in a costume that represented the Virgin Island and the V.I. National Park.  Accompanied with props of the Annaberg sugar mill, the a recognition VINP sign and a mountain-range of greenery, Hyndman wore a bright lime green leotard, with a long skirt which depicted pictures of sea and animal life, which she topped off with a grand floral head piece.

Contestant #4 Cagan made her entrance through the crowd as a French Polynesian Goddess. Marked with a distinguished array of feathers, flowers lowing hula skirt, the costume was a true sight to be seen.

The evening wear segment followed and was all around jaw-dropping. Each girl wore gowns which complimented their bodies exquisitely.

Contestant #1 Nisbett wore an emerald and silver masterpiece which featured a silver beaded neckline and short train that trailed behind her.

Monsanto-Weeks wore an eye-catching yellow dress embellished with sequences which revealed her slender lines.

Contestant #3 Hyndman dared to don a bold and “unyielding” burgundy colored dress featuring crystals which gave off an illusion of rain drops. The bottom of the gown was accented with small ruffled rosets.

Nanyamka A. Cagan won Evening Wear, Miss Intellect and Miss Congeniality.

Cagan finished off the evening wear segment with a soft baby-blue one strap gown with a dramatic slit,which she complimented with dangling chandelier earrings.

For the question and answer segment of the program, the four young ladies were all asked, “As Miss. St. John Festival Queen what do they feel the role should be and why?”

All four girls gave similar answers responding by saying they would be role models, ambassadors and representatives of the St. John people, but for Contestant #4, Cagan, that was not enough.

After saying she felt Miss St. John should be an ambassador and role model, she went into specific roles she felt that the Queen should fill.
Cagan continued by saying that as the Queen, her role should also include greeting tourists on the St. John dock, volunteering at the senior citizens’ home, mentoring students at all the St. John schools, while being an avid participant in all other community events.

There is no doubt that the judges had a hard time with their jobs that night with all the ladies flawlessly giving their speeches and modeling their one-of-a-kind fashion pieces.

After the scores were tallied Master of Ceremonies Peter Ottley, announced Contestant #1 Nisbett as Miss Cooperative; Contestant #4 Cagan as Miss Congeniality, Winner of Best Evening Wear, and Miss Intellect; Contestant #3 Hyndman as Miss Photogenic; Winner of Best International Wear and First runner up.

With all the category winners revealed, the crowd grew quiet with anticipation and excitement, until Contestant #2 Monsanto-Weeks was announced as Miss St. John Festival Queen 2010.