Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
Never mind the extended deadline, Dr Pamela Powell, special projects coordinator at the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), says young women are still very interested in entering the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition.
Earlier this month, JCDC announced that the deadline for the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition would be March 22; however, Powell explained that this was only done to facilitate some of the parishes.
"Some parishes have enough contestants, but other parishes need extra time because they did not have sufficient entries," she said, noting that the ideal number of contestants for each parish competition was 12.
"Most of the parishes indicated that the interest is there. It is not a lack of interest."
Powell added that many persons who had planned to enter the competition were busy with other activities and missed the previous deadline to send in their applications.
According to Powell, there has never been a lack of interest as there are always persons enquiring about the competition throughout the year.
"As soon as we finish one competition, we start accepting entries. We even have persons making inquiries before they even reach the age of 18, and you have persons who have passed 25 who want to enter," she told The Gleaner.
Already, Powell says the expectations are very high for this year's staging based on the number of persons who are interested. She said many persons are encouraged to enter based on the opportunities the competition provides and the number of past winners who have done well in other fields.
"When you enter the competition, the sky is the limit. It is an opportunity. Even if you do not win, the exposure is good. It is a fantastic experience," Powell said.
And this was certainly the case for last year's winner, Kemesha Kelly.
"I've known a number of past winners, and I have seen the impact that they have had on their communities, and I was encouraged by them," she told The Gleaner.
As the reigning queen, she said the journey has been both exciting and challenging. She says she also feels good to be a cultural ambassador and the Vision 2030 Youth Champion.
Kelly also said that the competition offered grooming, speech and diction training, and other aspects of personal development that can benefit a young woman even she does not win.
"It is an outstanding competition to be a part of. I had a great time!" she said.
And with this year being JCDC's 50th year, Powell, a former Miss St Elizabeth, who has been working with the organisation for more than 37 years, says her expectations are high for this year's Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition.
"One has to be excited about the fact that we have existed for this long. So we are going to do whatever we can to ensure that we have a fantastic golden year," she said.