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When the reign is over
Miss Jamaica Festival Queens --where are they now?

THE MISS Jamaica Beauty contest began in 1963 with most of the winners and runners-up going on to compete in international beauty pageants.
The contest started the same year as the festival song and school festival arts competitions. The Festival Office (now the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission -- JCDC) was also created that year in celebration of independence.
The first official Miss Jamaica beauty queen, Carol Crawford, went on to win the Miss World contest later that year in London, England.

In its early years controversy surrounded the competition. In 1964, organisers sent the runner-up to compete in the Miss World contest instead of the winner, Mitsy Constantine (later Seaga), who wanted to have her mother act as her chaperone. The issue of colour and favourtism to contestants of lighter hues also plagued the pageant.

In the mid 1970s there was a shift as the Festival Office took over the running of the contest and emphasis was placed on cultural awareness, talent and community development. The beauty pageant component was awarded to Spartan Health Club which today organises the Miss Jamaica World contest.

The first Festival Queen was crowned in 1975. However, there was no competition between 1976 and 1984. While acknowledging the break, national Festival Queen Coordina-tor Dorrett Thaxter was reluctant to explain the reason.

In 1990 the competition again underwent a change, becoming the Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition because the concept better portrayed the queen as Jamaican, explains Thaxter.

The competition has since grown to become the premier forum for young women between 18 and 25 to display their knowlege of Jamaican culture and to contribute to nation building.


Some of the Festival Queens have migrated or disappeared into the background since their reign ended. However, others like actress and TVJ sportscaster Dahlia Harris and Jennifer Small, Radio 2 FM's Jenny Jenny, have remained in the spotlight.

Karen Beale caught up with a few of them and tells us what they've been up to. We also have a snapshot of some of the others.


She was the first runner up to Lydia Malcolm, but took over when Malcolm migrated.

Today, Powell is the co-ordinator of the JCDC Culinary Arts section and has given more than 25 years of service to the organisation. She sits on numerous culinary committees and acts as a local and international judge for culinary competitions. She is also the co-ordinator and head of delegation for the Jamaica National Culinary team which has performed internationally, winning gold, silver and bronze medals.

A confessed food lover Powell, who brags that she is one of the best culinary experts around, was a part of the panel that established industry standards for local chefs. Through her work she has linked renowned chefs from across the globe with talented Jamaican chefs who might want to take their talent beyond the borders of the island.

"I have made my mark as a National festival queen, giving service to my country for 27 years consistently," she says. "The competition has opened several doors for me and I have no regrets.

I believe that a National festival queen should make a contribution in the parish from which she originates. It is a worthwhile event as long as the winners realize that it is not a competition for self, but a competition that promotes service."


She represented St. Mary in the national finals.


Jacqueline Stultz, Miss St. Thomas, is the only national winner from this parish. For years she worked at IGL in Kingston.


Evette Taylor represented Kingston & St. Andrew in the national competition.


She took the crown in 1988, representing Clarendon.

These days Georgette McDonald is the assistant manager of the Bank of Nova Scotia in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland.

A member of the Kiwanis Club McDonald, who is still single, notes that "the contest has grown in leaps and bounds. It continues to provide wonderful opportunities for young Jamaican women."


Christine Dawson represented Kingston & St. Andrew before taking the national title. She is employed to the Bank of Nova Scotia.


She is a mouthful of laughs if ever you watch her performances on stage. Crowned in 1990, wearing the sash of Miss St. Catherine, Dahlia Harris is an actress and sports presenter on TVJ.

Harris says the exposure through the competition helped her to mature, especially in her knowledge of Jamaica.


A former Vice President of the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) Sports Club, Karlene Kelly-Reid is a property manager at the UDC and a mother.

"The festival queen competition is the best competition in terms of identifying a true Jamaican woman," says Reid who represented Manchester in the national competition.

"I support the competition yearly because I still believe in the principles it exhibits. The only problem I see right now with the competition is that the queens are not recognized enough as the cultural ambassadors of Jamaica."


She represented St. Ann back in 1992. Today, Hyacinth Hall-Tracey is a busy wife and mother of two. Still glowing in golden beauty, she manages the financial services of the Jamaica Lottery Company.

Hall-Tracey says she is pleased with the education level of the girls now participating in the competition. "It means that women are taking this contest seriously." Her hope, she adds, is that participants continue to hold the Festival Queen competition in high esteem and realize that it is a contest only for women of such calibre.


A decade ago she lifted the national crown. Today, Andrea Tulloch, who represented Kingston & St. Andrew, flies in a different circle. She is employed to the sales office of Air Jamaica.


Simone Lou Crutchley, queen for 1994 from Kingston and St. Andrew now resides in the United States.


To most Jamaicans she's Jenny Jenny -- a popular voice in radio commercials, the jovial hostess of Radio 2 FM's Jenny Jenny show, and an energetic MC for numerous entertainment and social events.

Before that, however, Jennifer Small, represented Manchester in the national Festival Queen competition and walked away with the crown.

She says the competition made her a confident leader. "I developed self confidence and fluency." In addition to broadcasting and entertainment, Small is a committee member of the JCDC and a member of the Jamaica AIDS support (JAS).


She represented Kingston & St. Andrew at the national level and is now teaches at the Edith Dalton James High School, in the Corporate Area.


Queen for 1997, Monifa Morgan from Clarendon lives in Canada.


Three years after taking the national crown, Taneisha McGhie still has her winning smile.

She has also taken the spirit of the festival queen to anew level. McGhie is a medical intern at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Mona, St. Andrew. She's a resident advisor for the co-ed dormitory Taylor Hall, University of the West Indies (UWI), and has brought the Hall many successes in the cultural arena. Last year Taylor Hall won first place in UWI's annual Tallawah competition for the first time, while McGhie captured the prize for best director the year before that.

The multi-talented queen has also shone in the media, appearing in advertisements and co-hosting TVJ's morning show Smile Jamaica for two years. Plus her flair for writing has paid off as her most recent essay on designer babies is soon to be published in the West Indian medical journal.

As if that weren't enough, McGhie continues the social work she began during her reign -- working with HIV infected children at the Dare to Care home just outside of Spanish Town, St. Catherine.

"The competition has changed my life significantly. It has developed my skills and potential, above all teaching me to be humble," she says with that trademark smile.

"It is the major good thing I have done with my life." Participants in the Festival Queen competition should "use the opportunity to develop self and, in that period, serve society," she adds.


Troy-Ann Davis, who won in 1998 as Miss Kingston & St. Andrew is an Aesthetician and make-up artist. She also provides post mastectomy products for post mastectomy patients.


In 1999 Miss Portland, Gregor Fong, emerged as the National Festival Queen. She is now a Guidance Counsellor at Norwich Primary School in Portland.


The winner in 2001 from Trelawny, Terry Ann Tucker is studying in the United States.


She's now working for The National Water Commission's North Coast Waste Water Department in Montego Bay. Kaydeon Thomas represented Clarendon in the national contest.


­Karen Beale


See Also A Tribute To Miss Lou

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