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Oyster Fest Queen contestant hosts ‘Delta Jam’ to aid tornado-relief effort

Hali Valadez and Allison Crittenden

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 Festival Queen was crowned on a flatbed trailer on the day of the festival.

The tradition of crowning a Festival Queen and Little Miss Spat began in 1966.

As the Oyster Festival evolved over the years, so has the selection process for the Queen and Little Miss Spat. It originally was a type of beauty pageant, but is now a scholarship competition for the Queen contestants. The judging is based on a community service project, grade point average, a judges’ interview, a written response to a random question, and overall participation.

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 54th Urbanna Oyster Festival will take place on Friday, November 4, at 4 p.m. at Taber Park on Rappahannock Avenue. The Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen Scholarship Competition awards scholarships to the top three Queen finishers and Miss Congeniality.

The Oyster Festival will be held Friday and Saturday, November 4-5.

Queen profiles

Each week, the Southside Sentinel will profile one of this year’s seven Queen contestants along with their Little Miss Spat contestants. Each Queen contestant wrote a press release on her 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 contestant. A “spat” is a baby oyster. The Little Miss Spat finalists are selected independently of the Queen and are judged based on their participation at an ice cream social, a judges’ interview, overall participation, and written response to a question, which they also illustrate.

The judges are not residents of Middlesex County.

Allison Crittenden
As her community service project, Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen contestant Allison Crittenden, a senior at Christchurch School, held “Delta Jam,” a benefit music concert to raise money for tornado relief in Deltaville.

Crittenden felt that her community service project would help her hometown in its time of need after a tornado struck Deltaville on April 16, 2011. Many community gathering places and homes were damaged by the tornado that caused a total of $6 million in damage.

“Many of the places that felt the effects of the tornado were places that were near to my heart, and were important parts of my childhood,” said Crittenden. “I wanted to help Deltaville with tornado recovery because I felt such a strong connection to my hometown and the people who live here.”

Crittenden found musical groups that were all more than willing to donate their time and talents at Delta Jam, including Sarah Williams, a Nashville recording artist; Jumbo Lump Daddy and the Backfin Boys; and Sweet Justice.

Children’s activities, including a bouncy castle, mechanical bull ride and a giant slide were also big hits at the event.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Lower Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department provided concessions at the event.

More than 300 people attended Delta Jam and over $5,300 was collected and donated to the Benevolent Fund, which helps Deltaville in its ongoing tornado relief efforts.

“It was amazing to see all the support for Delta Jam from everyone in the Deltaville community and from our surrounding communities,” said Crittenden. “I wanted to bring Deltaville together to not only raise money for tornado relief, but also to raise the spirits of everyone in our town. I am continually humbled by how many people supported Deltaville tornado relief by being a part of Delta Jam, and its success exceeded my original goal of $5,000.

“It’s always special to help your community as one person, but even greater when many people come together to help one cause, and that is exactly what happened at Delta Jam,” said Crittenden.

During Crittenden’s high school career, she has been a member of the Lady Seahorses varsity volleyball team since her sophomore year, receiving the Most Improved Award her sophomore year, and All-Academic honors her junior year.

Crittenden has had lead and supporting roles in Christchurch’s winter musicals. She was a House Page for the Virginia General Assembly her freshman year. She was class president her sophomore year. Crittenden co-leads Music Ministries at Christchurch School, and is the winner of the Trotter Scholarship for her senior year.

Crittenden has volunteered at the Middlesex Family YMCA’s after-school program throughout her high school career, and has been the two-time recipient of Christchurch’s Mentor Award for her work at the YMCA.

Academically, Crittenden has been on the Headmaster’s List throughout her time at Christchurch School. A member of the National Honor Society since her sophomore year, Crittenden has served as a member of the steering committee throughout her junior year and senior year. She is the vice president of the National Honor Society at Christchurch.

Crittenden is a member of Clarksbury United Methodist Church.

She plans to attend Virginia Tech to pursue a major in agriculture and applied economics, and minor in political science.

Crittenden is the daughter of Tommy and Jenny Crittenden of Deltaville, and the granddaughter of Fred and Jane Crittenden of Deltaville, and Dudley and Margaret Eads of Hardyville. She has an older brother, Vaughan Crittenden.

Little Miss Spat
Crittenden’s Little Miss Spat is Hali Valadez of Urbanna, the daughter of Gidget and Dave Valadez, and a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School. Hali enjoys playing with her older sister Rachel and her dog Riley, and baking. When she grows up, she wants to be a wedding dress designer.

posted 09.22.2011

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