Tue | Oct 27, 2020

No Jamaica Festival Queen contest this year - 2019 winner, parish finalists to reign until 2021

Published:Wednesday | August 5, 2020 | 12:15 AMYasmine Peru/Senior Gleaner Writer
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2019 Khamara Wright
Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2019 Khamara Wright

When Khamara Wright was crowned Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2019, she made history when her win brought to an end a 29-year drought for the parish which she represented, St Catherine. In 2020, Wright is again in history-making mode.

Interim executive director of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC), Daffodil Thompson, told The Gleaner that the competition will not be staged this year and therefore, the festival queen, as well as all the parish queens, will continue their reign into 2021. “The Miss Jamaica Festival Queen competition is one of our proudest cultural products at the JCDC. We look forward to this competition annually because of the strong women of culture that it unearths each year, and the platform that it gives them to launch their nation-building dreams. With that said, we were truly disappointed that the 2020 competition was put on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Thompson said.

She commended Wright and all the parish queens on their excellent work during their reign, especially given the circumstances of the past few months. “We know that they will continue to give of their best to their respective parishes and the nation,” she stated.

Wright told The Gleaner that she was excited at the opportunity to have a prolonged reign. “A lot of events have been cancelled because of the coronavirus and it was disappointing for us, but I’m excited that we have been given this opportunity to really represent in the way that we had anticipated,” she said.

A chef and a University of Technology alum, Wright has been nurturing her pet project, ‘Nourish and Flourish’, the focus of which is facilitating high-school students with healthy meals. “With our reign taking us into next year, we can regroup and plan how best to execute our projects. I miss visiting schools and interacting with the children. During the lockdown we had to find more creative ways to get things done and technology was the silver lining during this time. I got requests to participate in projects through Zoom, and that was a plus,” Wright explained.

As the reigning queen in a COVID-19 era, Wright says she has now been forced to look at culture differently, and is also passionate about the needs in the hospitality sector. “I want to be a part of the team that drives the cultural mandate during this Emancipendence period. Also, I am aware of the impact COVID has had on hospitality workers and the children of said workers, so I am looking at how best we can assist,” the festival queen shared.

The Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition began in 1963 as the Miss Jamaica Beauty Contest, but the need for a greater emphasis on cultural awareness prompted a shift in focus in 1975. The competition is now recognised as the premier forum for intelligent, culturally aware and poised young ladies seeking a platform for their contribution to nation building.