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Festival Queen contestants & Community Service


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 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 52nd Urbanna Oyster Festival will take place on Friday, November 6, at 4 p.m. at Taber Park on Rappahannock Avenue. The Oyster Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, November 6-7.

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

Queen profiles

The Southside Sentinel will profile two Queen contestants and their Little Miss Spat contestants each week. Each Queen contestant wrote a report on their project and background.

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. 

The judges are not residents of Middlesex County.

This year’s Queen contestants, in alphabetical order, and their Little Miss Spat hopefuls include: Lindsey Ballantyne and Natalie Cutler, Amanda Blake and Jenna Ancell, JaLisa Carter and Airiana Beverley, Sarah Daniel and Janie Allen, Susan Dunaway and Kaelyn Sibley, Cydney Fisher and RuthAnne Key, Maggie Hall and Laura Walton, Catherine Harris and Katie Brooke, Susan Heyman and Ariyana Jackson, Stephanie Hutton and Emma Gresham, Kendall McNamee and Sara Paige Murray, Libbie Randolph and Brooke Brohawn, Micah Reed and Laila Dixon, and Katherine Wood and Ellie McMinn. Madeline Hurd also is participating as a Little Miss Spat contestant. 

Katherine Wood

Ellie McMinn and Katherine Wood
Katherine Wood is a senior at Middlesex High School and Chesapeake Bay Governors School for Environmental Sciences. For her community service project she organized and orchestrated a 5K run to benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Katherine felt compelled to benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation because of all the great programs it initiates and supports to keep our waters clean.

Katherine’s Little Miss Spat contestant, Ellie McMinn, assisted with the event by designing and coloring posters, T-shirts and banners, and handing out ribbons and prizes to the race winners.

Katherine has been involved in her community and schools since moving to Middlesex County when she was 6 years old. She participated in youth basketball and softball for several years, and JV and varsity softball throughout her high school career.

She has attended several leadership conferences with Prevention Services, volunteered as a counselor in training with the Middlesex YMCA, and is an active member of the National Honor Society, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Spanish Club.

Katherine is looking forward to attending a small, private college in Virginia to study chemistry, and possibly pre-medicine.

She is the daughter of  Wayne and Dana Wood of Hartfield.

Katherine’s Little Miss Spat contestant, Ellie McMinn, is the daughter of Doug and Karen McMinn of Wake. Ellie is a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School, and in her free time enjoys horseback riding, swimming, and spending time with her family.

JaLisa Carter

Airiana Beverley and JaLisa Carter
JaLisa Carter, a senior at Middlesex High School, decided to help the Meals on Wheels Program and the Middlesex Senior Center for her community service project. Both organizations are headed by Bay Aging.

“Initially, my Little Miss Spat, Airiana Beverley, and I had planned to help with Meals on Wheels,” said JaLisa “but once I was informed that the Middlesex Senior Center was in need of funds, we decided to take on both causes,” she said. “We saw both programs as a way to show senior citizens they are not forgotten. They have given so much throughout the years and it is only fair to give back to them.

“I learned that the little things that I do could affect someone in a very big way,” said JaLisa. “Just a smile can help to change someone’s mood.”

The two contestants delivered Meals on Wheels to recipients. “We enjoyed getting to meet the senior citizens of our community,” said JaLisa. 

They also hosted a “Gospel Extravaganza” at Calvary Baptist Church to raise money for the Senior Center. Various gospel talents from Middlesex and surrounding counties performed to help with her cause. In total, $700 was raised.

JaLisa said she hopes others will follow her lead and help with these wonderful causes.

JaLisa is very active in school. She has been a part of Building Black Achievers (BBA), DECA, the Student Government Association, French Club, Spanish Club, and a R.A.H.E.R scholar. She also was the secretary of the National Honor Society and her Junior Class.

She has been both a junior varsity and varsity cheerleader for the past three years for basketball and football. She also was chosen as a member of the 2008 homecoming court.

She is a member of Calvary Baptist Church where she is a part of the youth and young adult choirs.

After high school she plans to enroll in college at Hampton University or Old Dominion University. She plans on becoming a traveling RN.

She is the daughter of Darryl and Patricia Carter of Topping. She is the granddaughter of Jean Whiting and the late Andrew Whiting of Urbanna, and the late O’Neal and Louise Carter of Kilmarnock.

JaLisa’s Little Miss Spat is Airiana Beverley, the daughter of Sam Ware and Diane Beverly. Airiana is currently a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School. She enjoys playing on the swings, bike riding, swimming, coloring and loves to read. She wants to be doctor or a gymnast when she grows up. Her favorite subjects in school are gym, computer class and music.

posted 09.23.2009

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