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Community projects of Festival Queen contestants

by Tom Chillemi

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Abigail Purcell and Katlin Major
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Samantha Wright and Savannah Williams
The selection of the Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen is a long-standing tradition that dates back to 1960, the year before Urbanna Days became the Urbanna Oyster Festival. The first queen was crowned on a flatbed trailer on the day of the festival.

The tradition of crowning a Little Miss Spat along with the Queen began in 1966.

As the Oyster Festival has evolved over the years, so has the selection of the Queen and Little Miss Spat. It originally was a type of beauty pageant, but is now a scholarship competition for the Queen contestants, who also must complete a community service project.

The Queen competition starts early in the summer and extends until the crowning takes place on Friday of the Oyster Festival.

The crowning of the Queen at the upcoming 51st Urbanna Oyster Festival will take place on Friday, November 7, at 4 p.m. at Taber Park on Rappahannock Avenue in Urbanna. The Oyster Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, November 7-8.

Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen Scholarship Competition awards scholarships to the top three Queen finishers and Miss Congeniality.

The scholarships are available through the generosity of local sponsors. A list of the sponsors will be published at a later date.

Queen profiles

The Southside Sentinel is profiling two Queen contestants and their Little Miss Spat contestants each week.

As in the past, Queen contestants must be a high school senior and a resident of Middlesex County. Each Queen contestant selects a girl in the first grade to compete as her Little Miss Spat. (A “spat” is a baby oyster.) The Little Miss Spat finalists are selected independently of the queen.

This year’s queen contestants, in alphabetical order, and their Little Miss Spat hopefuls include: Ashae Burnett and Lyndsey Holmes, Larkin Epstein and Amber Daughtry, Ashley Figg and Hope Britton, Kristin Jessie and Alexis Davis, Katlin Major and Abigail Purcell, Lindsay Matthews and Lyndsey Hudson, Kaytlyn Miller and Colleen Rae, Mona’ Peters and Arviet Underwood, Katrina Reed and Devin Cooke, Lamia Robinson and Dashanti Redmond, Whitney Walton and Avery Walden, and Savannah Williams and Samantha Wright. Caroline Painter also is participating as a Little Miss Spat contestant.

Savannah Williams

For her community service project, Savannah Williams, a 17-year-old senior at Middlesex High School, organized a three-part community service project benefiting Hands Across Middlesex’s new Food Bank.

This summer Williams sold tickets for a “Dessert of the Month Raffle” where the winner will receive a dessert once a month for a full year. She and her Little Miss Spat set up in front of local businesses selling tickets as well as putting up posters and flyers. 

Williams said, “It was a fun way to raise money for Hands Across Middlesex (HAM).”

For the second part of her project, Williams held a benefit concert featuring Shane Cooley from the Northern Neck. People brought canned goods and donations for HAM. “Not only was it a great concert, but it also helped stock Hands Across Middlesex’s new Food Bank and now many families will be able to put food on their tables and buy gas instead of having to choose one or the other,” said Williams.

This spring Williams was awarded the Teenage Volunteer of the Year award from Hands Across Middlesex. 

The final part of Williams’ project was a “Kids Cooking Workshop” held at the New Horizons Unlimited Summer School Program at Urbanna United Methodist Church. She taught kids how easy and fun it is to make healthy food choices. Williams showed them a new twist on peanut butter and celery and also helped them create a trail mix. This taught the kids that a thoughtful, loving gift can be made in their own kitchen, said Williams.

Williams has consistently been on the Middlesex School Superintendent’s Honor Roll and is very active at Middlesex High School. She is a member of the Spanish National Honor Society, Book Club, Students Against Destructive Decisions and varsity tennis team.

She is an energetic Key Club member. She has served as club editor and club vice president. She is now a Key Club Lieutenant Governor and in charge of many clubs in the area. She was picked to be the Capital District Convention Chair. 

Williams is a member of the Urbanna Baptist Youth Group, and also is a former No Strings Attached puppeteer who traveled to the Czech Republic, Croatia and Trinidad on mission trips. 

Williams also helped aid Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Gulfport, Mississippi.

This past summer Williams traveled to Malta, Italy and France as a People to People Student Ambassador and helped plant trees with the Gaia Foundation in Malta.

Williams works part time at Bethpage Camp-Resort in Urbanna. 

She plans to attend college next fall. Her top two choices are the College of William and Mary and the University of Oklahoma.

She is hoping to earn a degree in broadcasting, but is also interested in earning a history major.  

Williams is the daughter of Ron and Marjorie Williams of Urbanna.

Williams’ Little Miss Spat contestant is Samantha Wright, daughter of John and Traci Wright of Remlik. Samantha is a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School. She loves Sponge Bob Squarepants, swimming and going fishing with her mom and dad. 

Katlin Major

For her community service project, Katlin Major of Stormont, a senior at Middlesex High School, organized and hosted a music camp and concert.

The purpose of Major’s music camp was to introduce rising first through third graders to different musical concepts. Over four days the children at the camp learned how to play handbells, learned about different musical instruments, how to recognize different musical symbols, how to read music, and the fun of music. 

Each day also included two art projects, snack, story time, and a game all relating to music. “The children really learned a lot at camp,” said Major, “I loved to watch their faces light up when they learned something new.”

For the second part of Major’s project, she promoted and put on a concert to benefit Christmas Friends Inc. The concert was held July 27 at Saluda Baptist Church. The concert featured the children from her music camp in addition to other school-age music students from throughout the community. The concert included 14 performances, six by the children from camp and eight by other music students, including Major. 

After the concert everyone was invited to the fellowship hall for refreshments where there were donation plates for Christmas Friends Inc. Major was able to raise over $900 for Christmas Friends Inc. at the concert.

Major came up with the idea for her community service project because of her love of music. She has been a piano student of Kathy Paulette for nine years and a member of the St. Clare Walker Middle School and Middlesex High School bands.

“To see my whole project come together was an amazing feeling,” said Major. “I had been looking forward to sharing my love of music with the children in the community for a while and felt that the community was very supportive of my dream and helped make my camp and concert a success.”

As a Middlesex High School student, Major has played JV and varsity softball for three years, and has been a JV and varsity cheerleader for four years. She served as the captain for her JV cheerleading squad as a sophomore.

Major has consistently been on the School Superintendent’s Honor Roll for the past four years at MHS. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Spanish National Honor Society, Leo Club, Future Educators Association, and Future Business Leaders of America. 

Major also is a member of the marching and concert band at MHS. She plays the flute, oboe, marimba, cymbals, bells and xylophone. She was selected and participated in University of Virginia’s Band Day 2007 where she performed in the halftime show with the Marching Cavaliers.

Major has helped with the children of Saluda Baptist Church for the last four years with activities such as Christmas programs, Easter egg hunts, mission friends, and children’s choir. She also coaches YMCA soccer and T-ball for the Middlesex County Little League.

After graduation Major plans to attend the University of Richmond, Longwood University or James Madison University. She plans to study elementary education or chemistry to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

Major is the daughter of Tommy and Carol Major, and the granddaughter of Tom and Roberta Major, all of Stormont.

Major’s Little Miss Spat contestant is Abigail Purcell. She is the daughter of Terri Purcell and the late Tommy Purcell of Hardyville. She is the granddaughter of Tom and Roberta Major of Stormont, and Johnny and Tinker Purcell of Hardyville.

Abigail is a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School where her favorite classes are physical education and music. Her hobbies include T-ball, basketball, swimming and drawing. Abigail wants to be a dentist when she grows up.

posted 09.18.2008

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