Once again, the American Business Women's Association gets everyone talking about the upcoming Vidalia Onion Festival, with the 2017 Junior Miss and Miss Vidalia Onion Pageants. Saturday night at Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia was again the scene of another exciting night of pageantry as contestants from all over the area showed up with fans and family who packed the auditorium to find out which contestants would wear the 2017 crowns and represent the Sweet Onion City.
The night wasn't just gowns and crowns however as it kicked off with a stellar rendition of the Start Spangled Banner, performed by young Shannon Layne Dornan-Collins, who also performed another amazing selection later on in the competition. After a brief welcome from ABWA President Angela Cook, former Miss Vidalia Onion (1999) Deidre (Hadden) Barnett took the stage and began the contest.
Between the competitions, giving contestants time to change into their next outfits, exciting entertainment by Emma Townsend, Kendria Bryant, Danni Thomson, Tesla Bivens, and Jayla Phillips kept the audience glued to their chairs, laughing and cheering.
Also noteworthy, were the dapper young gentleman who were given the privilege of escorting the contestants during the evening wear competition. Two students from Vidalia High School, Lawson Paradice and Noah Stuckless, and a Senior from Robert Toombs Christian Academy, Hunter Partin represented their schools and the community well.
Following the Farewell Walk of Miss Bryne Coleman, the 2016 Jr. Miss Vidalia Onion, the contestants were brought out on stage and the auditorium hushed as the winners were announced and Miss Anna Beth Toole became the next Miss Vidalia Onion Queen.
Pageant Director and former Miss Vidalia Onion, KeriLynn (Knight) Nester was extremely pleased with the event and said, "I am so proud of the community and the support that we've had from our sponsors, our parents and all of our contestants. I'm looking forward to a great year."
The newly crowned Miss Vidalia Onion, Anna Beth Toole, says the toughest part of her pageantry career was believing in herself. "I was very insecure when I first started in pageants, and yes at times, it is hard to believe in yourself, but it doesn't matter if you have a crown on your head or not. You are who you are for a reason and I really learned that throughout pageants" said Toole.
The 2017 Junior Miss Vidalia Onion is 15 year old Swainsboro native, Sydney Dorsey who echoed Toole's sentiments about pageantry by saying, "you have to build up your confidence. That was the most important thing for me to do during my years of pageantry. It also helped me prepare for onstage interviews, which has helped me grow as well."
2017 Miss Vidalia Onion
The 2017 Miss Vidalia Onion, Anna Beth Toole, is crowned at STC in Vidalia.
(L-R) Jada Ussery (Miss Photogenic and 1st Runner Up), Anna Beth Toole (Miss Vidalia Onion and Interview Winner), Megan Dukes (People's Choice and 2nd Runner Up) Not Pictured: Carly Moore (Miss Congeniality)
Junior Miss Vidalia Onion
(L-R) Brooke Mobley (People's Choice), Cealy Shiver (3rd Runner Up), Madison Sharpton (1st Runner Up), Sydney Dorsey (Jr. Miss Vidalia Onion), Ashton Shuman (Interview Winner and 2nd Runner Up), Hannah Herndon (Miss Photogenic and 4th Runner Up), Karlie Wright (Miss Congeniality)