Six St James Festival Queen competitors get sponsor sashes
DR. ANTHONY Taylor, chairman of the St James Festival Queen committee which is planning the June 25 parish event, says that despite the lower-than-usual number of participants for the parish-level staging, work will still be done to choose the best representative for the national competition.
This follows Wednesday night’s sashing ceremony for the selection of sponsors, where six young women were selected to compete for the Miss St James Festival Queen 2023 title.
“One of the challenges we are having this year is that quite a number of our young people are engaged in other things, and the time factor in terms of training is killing a lot of them. We had up to nine participants at one point, but they are preparing for exams, both at the tertiary and high school level, and they find it very difficult to balance both school and training,” Taylor explained.
“We will make do with what we have, and our aim is to work as best as we can with the young ladies. Based on observations and working with them at the culturally aware level, we realise they are workable, and we are going to do the best we can as a training team to ensure we have the best candidate for the parish of St James,” Taylor added.
The sashing ceremony took place at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre in downtown Montego Bay’s Sam Sharpe Square, at a time when the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission [JCDC] Festival Queen programme is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The parish-level staging for St James will also be held at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.
Karena Gayle, one of the six contestants who took part in randomly selecting sponsors during Wednesday’s proceedings, voiced her excitement at the opportunity to participate in the festival queen contest.
“Truly, I feel honoured to have been selected to basically represent my parish. I do feel honoured to be here because I was chosen to be here, and I feel as though I can make a difference since I was seen as a prospective competitor to represent my parish,” said Gayle, 18, who will be representing the M&M Jamaica Limited engineering company in the competition.
“I had some affiliations with JCDC when I was younger, but I was in primary school. So this opportunity was a shocker. But it was also something I really wanted to take part in,” Gayle added.
The Jamaica Festival Queen competition, towards which the parish-level competitions are geared, has been held as part of Jamaica’s annual festival celebrations. From 1954 to 1974 it was called the Miss Jamaica Beauty Contest. From 1975 to 1998 it was the National Festival Queen competition, and from 1999 it is Miss Jamaica Festival Queen.
The aim of the competition is to promote community involvement, cultural awareness, and demonstration of leadership skills among its participants, while giving them a platform to contribute to nation-building.
Miss St James Festival Queen participants:
· Leah-Jay Holness, sponsored by Gateway Cooperative Credit Union
· Zaria Lawson, sponsored by Chow’s Trading Company Limited
· Nerissa Turner, sponsored by Toney Ward’s Auto Centre
· Catherine Smith, sponsored by SSMC Xpress International
· Karena Gayle, sponsored by M&M Jamaica Limited
· Jessica Johnson, sponsored by B&S Shutter Care