Girls Take Center Stage

ST. MARYS — Gabrielle Keller was named queen Wednesday night in the 2011 St. Marys SummerFest Little Miss Pageant held in the St. Marys Memorial High School Performing Arts Center.

The pageant hosted 30 contestants between the ages of 5 and 7 this year, double last year’s amount.

“The first 15 spots were full within a half a day,” Co-Chair Becky Ruvoldt said, noting the large demand caused them to open the pageant up to more girls.

Gabrielle, 6, is the daughter of Brad and Kris Keller and said she was excited to be named the 2011 Little Miss SummerFest Queen.

“Probably winning,” Gabrielle said of the best part of her experience.

First Runner-Up Kailee Coffey, Second Runner-Up Gracelyn Johns, Third Runner-Up Molly Sandberg and Fourth Runner-Up Eva Youngs were named to the court. Although most girls stated they were nervous, Kailee, 7, the daughter of Jerry and Angie Coffey, said she was comfortable on stage.

“It’s not really scary when you think about it,” Kailee said, noting that she is a member of Kristina’s Dance Escape and is used to being on stage.

Kailee said she had practiced a lot for the pageant and was excited to be named the first runner-up.

The pageant began with a dance performed by the 30 contestants to “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” After entertainment from Kristina’s Dance Escape, past Little Miss SummerFest Queens and a local vocalist, the contestants returned to the stage to model a dress, escorted by the 2011 SummerFest Queen and her court. They were judged on their poise, smile and appearance.

Following their walks, the girls were each called to the center of the stage to answer two interview questions, which were worth the largest portion of their overall scores.

Gracelyn, 6, the daughter of Joel and April Johns, said the hardest part of the pageant was the interviews. She was asked what animal she would like to be.

“If I could be any animal, I would be a baby horse because they’re cute,” Gracelyn said.

Eva, 7, the daughter of John and Tina Youngs, was asked what she would paint on her bedroom walls.

“If I could paint anything on my bedroom walls, it would be God so I could be safe,” she said.

Gabrielle was asked what she wanted to be when she grew up.

“An artist because then I could get really rich and famous for selling my art,” she said.

Gabrielle said she enjoys drawing.

“It’s really fun to draw stuff,” she said, noting that she likes to draw butterflies.

Molly, 7, the daughter of Mark and Jennifer Sandberg, was asked what she would do with an orange crayon.

“I would draw a big orange heart and little orange hearts all around it,” Molly said.

After another round of entertainment from two more dance groups from Kristina’s Dance Escape and another local singing group, the Little Miss SummerFest Queen and her court were named.

Co-Chair Erin Spray said she was pleased with the girls’ performance.

“All of them did awesome,” she said.

“I can’t believe how they all sat.”

Ruvoldt said she enjoyed working with each of the contestants.

“They were a great group this year and they listened well and overall they were just a fun group to work with,” Ruvoldt said. “To me, they were all winners tonight.”