Queen contestants help the Bay
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.
The Southside Sentinel is profiling two Queen contestants and their Little Miss Spat contestants each week. The Queen contestants wrote a press release on their projects 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.
Whitney Walton’s community service project dealt with preserving the culture of the Chesapeake Bay. Walton made a presentation at the YMCA day camp teaching the younger residents of Middlesex County ways to help clean the Chesapeake Bay. In doing this, she hopes to improve the future of the bay and decrease pollution over time.
By getting the youth more informed now, she believes they will begin to practice the methods taught as they become adults. These methods include helping to increase the size of oyster beds in the rivers and Bay and “going green,” or decreasing one’s use of products harmful to the waters.
Cleaning the bay will hopefully result in a population increase of the animals of the bay, which also will lead to the decrease of harsh regulations put on the watermen who are “just trying to make a living doing what they love,” said Walton.
Walton is a senior at Middlesex High School where she participates in many activities. She is a member of the varsity and competition cheering squads. She also plays varsity basketball and softball, and is a member of the traveling softball team called the Northern Neck Rage.
She enjoys singing in the MHS A Capella group, “Fully Charged.” Walton also has been a member of the Rappahannock District Youth Choir. This group travels to different churches of the Rappahannock District spreading God’s message to others by singing and doing mission work for local communities.
She also has participated in the District Youth Council for the past few years. This council is made up of local young adults who help plan Christian events for the youth of the Rappahannock District.
After graduation, Walton would like to attend either Christopher Newport University, James Madison University or Longwood where she plans to major in marine biology. Walton hopes to eventually discover many things in the field of marine biology and make a difference in the world.
Her interests include singing, photography, kayaking, hunting, fishing and playing sports.
She is the daughter of Ricky and Wanda Walton of Locust Hill.
Walton’s Little Miss Spat is Avery Walden, the daughter of Shawn and Kelly Walden of Hartfield. Avery is a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School.
Whitney said she and Avery “are two of a kind. We clicked from the first event.”
Lamia C. Robinson
Lamia Robinson of Hartfield is a senior at Middlesex High School where she has been a varsity football and competition cheerleader for four years.
She is involved in many clubs and extracurricular activities, including the Key Club, National Honor Society, French National Honor Society, Book Club, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and SGA.
Robinson is the president of an organization called Building Black Achievers (BBA), the DECA District 24 President, was sophomore class president, and junior class fund-raising chairperson.
Robinson attends New St. John Baptist Church and works with the church’s youth choir and praise dance team.
For her community service project, Robinson raised money to help a family that lost their home to a fire over the summer. The family lost many irreplaceable items and a 14 year-old girl suffered second and third degree burns over 30 percent of her body. The child was in the hospital for 22 days and is now back in school and recovering well.
The family is now living in their new house in Hartfield, and is finally putting the pieces of their lives back together. Money is still being raised for them through various collection jars at locations and events.
Robinson chose to be a contestant in this pageant so that she could interact with people of the community and her Little Miss Spat contestant. Robinson has always been surrounded by children and babysits her family members’ and neighbors’ children. She said she is happy to have done a little deed for the community and loves all the time she spends with her Spat contestant.
Robinson will graduate with an Advanced Studies Diploma and hopefully attend Temple University. She wants to cheer in college and double-major in theater and pre-law.
She enjoys singing, dancing and reading in her spare time.
She is the daughter of Gregory and Vickie Robinson, and has two younger brothers.
Robinson’s Little Miss Spat contestant is Dashanti Redmond of Topping. Dashanti, the daughter of Latonya Cockrell and Shannon Cooke, is a first-grader at Middlesex Elementary School. Dashanti enjoys baseball, basketball, soccer, cheerleading and playing with her dolls and friend. Helping others that are sick is important to Dashanti, who wants to be a doctor when she grows up.
Caroline Painter of Topping is a Little Miss Spat contestant. Her queen contestant dropped out of the competition so she is participating on her own.
A first-grader at Middlesex Elementary, Caroline’s favorite subjects in school are math and spelling.
In her free time, Caroline enjoys soccer, swimming, T-ball, drawing and playing with her dogs. When she grows up, Caroline would like to be a veterinarian because she loves animals, especially dogs. “I want to help sick animals get well and keep animals healthy,” she said.
Caroline is the daughter of Haley Painter and Michael Painter, and is the granddaughter of Rick and Charlotte Ughetto, and Karen and Ray Walker.