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Festival Queen contestants serve the community

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Amber Daughtry and Larkin Epstein
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Lindsay Matthews and Lyndsey Hudson
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 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. in 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 including, BB&T Bank, Bethpage Camp-Resort, Bons Secours, C&F Bank, Colonial Virginia Bank, EVB Bank, Grey’s Point Camp, Rappahannock Concrete Corporation, Rosegill LLC, and Thurston Properties.

Additional sponsors for the Little Miss Spat Competition include Bristow-Faulkner Funeral Home, GLF Lawn Care/Landscaping and Urbanna Auto Marine Sales.

The 2008 Urbanna Oyster Festival Sponsors include the Bank of Lancaster, BB&T Bank, Bons Secours, C&F Bank, EVB Bank, GEICO, Kathleen M. Hall CPA, Rappahannock General Hospital, Revere Gas and Appliance, Rosegill Development LLC, The Allen Group Inc., The National Guard, and the Virginia Lottery.

Queen profiles

The Southside Sentinel is profiling two Queen contestants and their Little Miss Spat contestants each week. Each of the Queen contestants wrote a press release on their project and a brief biography on themselves.

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.

Larkin Epstein

For her community service project, Larkin Epstein, a senior at Christchurch School, organized a county-wide recycling program.

Epstein’s project consisted of setting up recycling bins for glass, plastic, cans and paper at several businesses across Middlesex County. “I felt that this project was a necessary addition to the county due to the growing concern for our environment, and I believe that the people of Middlesex County need to start somewhere with recycling, no matter how small the project may be,” said Epstein. 

The bins were checked and emptied regularly during July and August and recyclable items dropped off at the local recycling center. Instead of dropping her aluminum cans off, Epstein donated them to a river restoration project, “Cans for Oysters,” which helps to clean the river. 

Another aspect of Epstein’s project was “Recycling Day” held at the Middlesex YMCA on Saturday, August 9. The all-day event offered the people of Middlesex County the convenience of dropping off their recyclables collected from their homes at the YMCA instead of having to take them to their local recycling drop-off site, as well as to obtain information about recycling. 

“I really loved working on this project,” said Epstein. “I wanted to conduct a project I was passionate about and enjoyed working on, and I did. I hope people will continue to recycle and help to preserve the beautiful place we live in.”

Throughout her high school career Epstein has played varsity volleyball. She has been active in several clubs and organizations such as vice president of the Latin Club, member of the Math Club, member of Guild, a student community service club, as well as manager of the varsity lacrosse team. 

Last summer she volunteered with Bay Aging and took part in Meals on Wheels. After high school, Epstein aspires to go to the University of Virginia, Vanderbilt University, or the University of South Carolina. She plans to study biology.

Epstein is the daughter of Maryann and Michael Doty of Urbanna.

Epstein’s Little Miss Spat is Amber Daughtry, the daughter of Bryan and Katie Daughtry of Church View. Amber enjoys coloring as well as dancing. Her favorite colors are pink, blue and red, and she hopes to become a cheerleader and a lifeguard.

Lindsay Matthews

Lindsay Matthews began work on her community service project in mid-spring and was able to organize a successful baby-sitting class early in August.

A babysitting class was a perfect match for Matthews and her spat, Lyndsey Paige Hudson, because they met when Matthews baby sat Hudson.

Her community service project was a baby-sitting safety course held at the Middlesex Family YMCA. She organized, hosted and taught this course. She also had some experts, such as Emergency Medical Technicians, firefighters, teachers, moms and librarians, to fill in with more information. The class included instruction on fire and playground safety as well as falling, choking, strangulation, and drowning prevention.

Matthews prepared each student with the necessary tools and tricks to be successful safe babysitters. The class ran for four nights and trained 16 reliable babysitters for Middlesex County.

On the final night of the class, the newly-trained babysitters had an opportunity to get supervised experience when the students invited the public to drop off their children for Parents Night Out. At this event, each babysitter was responsible for one child and also had to work 20 minutes behind the snack center counter. The students were responsible for making sure “their child” was having fun, taking “their child” to the restroom, and sitting with “their child” at the snack center.

All money raised from this project has been donated to the YMCA or used to buy supplies for a needy infant the class sponsored. This infant’s father lost his job just months before he was born, and the infant’s mother had to be put on bed rest so the infant could survive. 

This infant was born into a struggling family and the class was able to collect over a thousand bottle liners for the bottles they had obtained for the infant. The class also supplied diapers, wipes and other items, which can be very costly even to the luckiest of families. 

As part of Matthews’ project, she was able to give over 60 children a brand-new toothbrush donated by local dentist offices. The importance of clean teeth for a new school year became clear to her when she was reading an article about the difference the appearance of your teeth make in how the world perceives you. “With the start of a new school year on everyone’s mind, I felt no child should have to worry about their unclean teeth,” said Matthews.

Matthews has a passion for working with children. She has coached her own soccer team for the YMCA, and has been assistant coach for T-ball in the Middlesex County Little League for three years.

Matthews, a senior at Middlesex High School, took a dual enrollment teacher intern class. Then she spent her morning school waiver time volunteering in a Middlesex kindergarten classroom.

Matthews decided to be a part of the Oyster Festival Queen Competition because her first year of student teaching was ending and she was eager to spend a few extra months with her first students.

She also volunteered in four Vacation Bible Schools this summer. She has worked in the-after school program at the YMCA since the day she turned 16.  She also does child watch at the YMCA.

During her junior year, she spent 25 hours of each week helping local elementary school students.

Matthews is a member of the National Honor Society, MHS Key Club and Leo Club, and serves as secretary for the Phi Delta Kappa Future Educators Association. 

When she is not busy with school, work, friends or family, she enjoys baby-sitting.

Matthews is the daughter of Marie and Robert Wilding of Deltaville, and Carlton and Christie Matthews of Gloucester. 

After graduating, Matthews aspires to major in government while pursuing a master’s degree in elementary education at Mary Washington University.

Lyndsey Hudson is a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School where her favorite subject is physical education. In her free time she likes to play teacher. Her favorite color is pink. She is the daughter of Danielle Hudson of Deltaville, and Mr. and Mrs. Scott Hudson of Kilmarnock. 

posted 09.25.2008

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