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Seven high school seniors seek title of 2017 Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen

Tiarah Hayes and her Little Miss Spat Tatiana Washington

The selection of the Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen and Little Miss Spat competition is a long-standing tradition that dates back to 1960. What would become the Urbanna Oyster Festival was only four years old when the first Oyster Festival Queen and Little Miss Spat were crowned on a flatbed trailer on the day of the festival.  

As the Oyster Festival has evolved over the years, so has the selection of the Queen and Little Miss Spat (a “spat” is a baby oyster). What was once a beauty pageant is now a scholarship based competition for the Queens. The queen contestants must be high school seniors and residents of Middlesex County. Each queen contestant mentors a first grade contestant as her Little Miss Spat. The Queen and Little Miss Spat competition starts early in the spring and extends until the crowning takes place on Friday of the Oyster Festival. The Queens are judged in five areas: individual community service project, individual judges’ interview, academic achievement, a spontaneously written response to a random question and overall participation in the competition. The Little Miss Spat Contestants are judged separately from the queens in the following areas: participation at an ice cream social and a tea party, individual judges’ interview and overall participation.

The foundation of this competition is character building and community service. Each Queen contestant must volunteer a minimum of 25 hours benefiting Middlesex County. This year’s Queen and Spat contestants have volunteered well over the required time, completing over 575 hours and donating over $16,595 for the betterment of this community.

Scholarships for these young ladies have been made possible by the generosity of local businesses. Queen sponsors are Bethpage Camp-Resort, Bon Secours Health, Grey’s Point Camp, C&F Bank, Sona/EVB Bank, MetroCast, Riverside Walter Reed Hospital, Thurston Properties, Thurston Spring Service, Bristow-Faulkner Funeral, Dr. C. Ben Lennon, and Rosegill Development. Sponsors for the Little Miss Spat competition are River Birch Nursery, Unique Golf Carts and Urbanna Builders’ Supply.

The crowning of the 60th Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen and Little Miss Spat will take place Friday, November 3, at 4 p.m. at the Urbanna Firehouse. This year’s Queen contestants (in alphabetical order) and their Little Miss Spat contestants include: Tiarah Hayes and Tatiana Washington, Macey Horne and Jocelynn Nester, Kimberly Price and Claire Dise, Reilly Price and Bailey Pullman, Haley Revere and Allison Duke, Kelleigh Seay and Ryleigh O’Bier, Emilie Smith and Annie Bray; and Spat contestant MaKayla Bryant. 

Tiarah Hayes
Urbanna Oyster Festival Queen contestant Tiarah Hayes and her Little Miss Spat Tatiana Washington united together to uplift and empower young girls in their community with the “I am Loving Me” project. With all of the standards set for females in today’s society, Hayes felt it is extremely important for girls to learn and understand the power and beauty that they, as females, hold. “It is always important to remind our girls that we are more than just a pretty face,” she said.

After consulting with Laurel Shelter Inc. in Gloucester, Hayes decided to collect donations of clothing, shoes, toiletries and funds to support the domestic violence clients of Laurel Shelter, which is a victim-witness, non-profit organization that empowers victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by providing them services and preventing violence by increasing awareness of the impact these victimizations have on all members of the community. Hayes felt there was no better way to demonstrate “girl power.”

Raising Awareness
On August 11, Hayes held an “I am Loving Me” girls empowerment program at Immanuel Baptist Church in Saluda. Speakers included Deputy Amanda Billups of the Gloucester County Sheriff’s Office, Rebecca Morgan, director of the Middlesex Social Services Department; Dora-Mae Smith, a Mary Kay consultant; and Cheryl Harris-Sutton, CEO of Harris-Sutton Inc. They spoke on topics of self-defense, self-love, career goals, beauty skills and etiquette. Door prizes, survival kits, and goodie bags were given away. Each girl who attended received a bracelet with the word “LOVE” engraved in it as a reminder that they are loved.

Hayes’ fundraiser was a teen dance at Bethlehem Star Lodge in Saluda. For this fundraiser, community members aged 12-18 joined together for a night of dancing, games, food, and unity! “I felt that this event brought the community a little closer,” said Hayes. “We raised $130 that night.”

High School Career
During her career at Middlesex High School (MHS), Hayes has been a member of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) for one year. Hayes is currently the fundraising chair of her class. Hayes attended the Hanover’s Regional Career and Technical Advancement’s 3-week Governor’s School during the summer.

Aside from school academics, Hayes is in her third year on the MHS track and field team, and second year in soccer and varsity cheerleading. “I’d say that I am very athletic and I like to stay active,” said Hayes. 

This past spring Hayes broke the longest-standing school track and field record, set by Jackie Pratt in 1987, in the 200 meters (26.0).

Hayes is a member of the NAACP of Middlesex County.

After graduating, she plans to attend Virginia Commonwealth University and pursue a career in social work.

Tiarah Hayes is the daughter of Timothy Hayes and Tonia Washington of Hartfield, and the granddaughter of Valerie Scott and Kenneth Washington, and Richard and Shirley Brown. Hayes has one sister, Tarnisha, and two brothers, Tyran and TJ.

Little Miss Spat
Tatiana Washington, Tiarah’s Little Miss Spat contestant, is the daughter of Kenny and Shannon Washington of Saluda, and the granddaughter of Valerie Scott and Kenneth Washington Sr., and Sharon and the late Rusty Darnell. Tatiana’s favorite thing to do is dance, and she would like to be a police officer when she grows up.

posted 09.13.2017

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