By Pete Zamplas- Kathlene Beam has much to beam about as the first Miss Hendersonville to get crowned in seven years, while Hendersonville High School freshmen Katelyn Ledbetter and Kaitlyn Burns sparkled in the teen competition.
Beam won the resurrected overall title and the swimsuit/fitness segment Saturday in Flat Rock Playhouse. Ledbetter won $500 as Miss Hendersonville’s Outstanding Teen that night, while Burns gets $100 as first runner-up among WNC teens. FRP’s 500-seat house sold out. A four-hour, three-pageant gala crowned five queens including two teens.
Beam and new Miss Asheville Melody Hager and Miss Blue Ridge Valley (BRV) Rachel Möwer each get $1,000 scholarships.
They can compete for the Miss North Carolina title and its $20,000 first prize, June 24 in Raleigh. Heather Lee Walker (in 1973) is the sole Miss Hendersonville queen to also win the state pageant. The state winner contends for the Miss America Crown.
Pageant on-stage questioning is much more probing these days. Beam was asked about new Pres. Donald Trump often tweeting. She considers it fine to keep tweeting. But she suggests he “rein in his more controversial tweets, and be more respectful.”
Beam told The Tribune that upon hearing her name announced as the winner, “I couldn’t believe it.” She describes herself as a makeup artist, therapist and role model. She considers other queens and contestants new “sisters.”
The Blue Ridge Community College freshman eyes a career in makeup, via a fine arts degree and academy training. She was asked about her special effects makeup, as the first of two on-stage questions. She said it nets “wonderful” results. She told The Tribune how makeup expresses one’s personality. The slender blonde likes for herself “rosy cheek, red lips, ‘cat eyes’ and false lashes.”
The Hendersonville native’s platform is “Education on Anxiety Disorders.” She displayed much calm on-stage Saturday. She is accustomed to the spotlight and pressure, as a competitive dancer since age six with Pat’s School of Dance. She was in Rockette-affiliated training in New York City four years ago. She is now a dance instructor.
“I love telling stories,” she said. Several of her friends said in the after-party in Iannucci’s Pizzeria that Beam is comical and entertaining. She was already jesting with another newly-crowned queen, in the hectic aftermath of the long show.
The most efficient crowning of the five new queens Saturday was by far by Kristen Morgan on Beam. As the last (2010) Miss Hendersonville, Morgan had much time to prepare for anointing her successor. Courtney Laughter was the 2010 teen winner.
Morgan glided cross the stage as her pre-recorded farewell address played. She stated it triggers fond memories of seven years ago to take in “gowns galore, butt glue and dodging hairspray.” She assured her successor of an “adventure” and urged to “trust” the “team at your disposal.” She said “The Lord is going to use you as a ray of love, hope and change. Don’t be afraid. Embrace it!”
Hailee McCraw, 20, was first runner-up and danced her way to the talent sub-title. The East Henderson alumnus is a Western Carolina University pre-law sophomore. Her platform was “GLAM: Girls Learning Acceptance Matters.”
Madison Tweed, 20, was second runner-up. The 2014 West Henderson grad has studied culinary arts. Her platform was about the Backpack Program for child nutrition.
Miranda Mathews said right after the pageant she felt very honored the other contestants chose her as Miss Congeniality, and thus a “role model” for peers. She studies nursing, and models. The North Henderson alum’s platform was about special needs education.
Other Miss Hendersonville contestants were Letha Katlind Edwards (’14 HHS/diabetes awareness) who interpreted a song with sign language, Hannah McConnell (East/foster care), and Emily Quinn Ritter (adoption) who now lives in Hendersonville.
Teen queen Ledbetter also won the talent and gown segments among all six contestants vying for two titles. She also raised the most money (about $900) among all three pageants’ contestants via pageant program ads, organizers announced.
Her platform is “Dance Therapy for Special Needs Children.” Responding to her cultural question on-stage about smart phones and “selfie” photos, she shrewdly poked fun at many youth’s self-absorption and distractions. “We’re more concerned with what’s on our phones than in communicating in person.”
Ledbetter tap-danced spectacularly, to win talent. She dances with Pat’s, and was among over 300 halftime dancers at the recent Orange Bowl. Pat Shepherd, who founded Pat’s studio, was among those getting special awards during the show. She was hailed in part for organizing Apple Festival talent.
Burns, the first runner-up, was third overall among all teens. Thus she nearly made it a Hendersonville sweep of both teen crowns. Maggie Effler won the BRV teen title. Burns was Miss Congeniality. She dances with Releve, and danced well in the pageant.
Burns’ platform was “Kaitlyn’s Keepsakes.” Responding to an on-stage question about bullying, she called it a “major problem.” Burns said off the cuff that “beauty is not the thing that defines you. It’s what’s inside.”
Performers on Saturday included Pat’s dancers, past pageant queens, and 20 “princesses” ages 6-12 as a group such as Ledbetter’s sister Julia Nicole. Another local princess, Jalon Rikaya Blackwell, 11, dazzled the crowd with a very acrobatic solo dance.
Her mother Tiffany Blackwell is co-business manager for the pageants. Its directors are Jeff Jones and Jon Vance. Vance crowned Ledbetter.
Tiffany Ervin, who last ran the Hendersonville pageant, was on hand. A show highlight was her howling with surprise on stage in noticing 2009 Miss Hendersonville Ciara Newman is expecting a child. Ervin, who focuses on Rotary endeavors, told The Tribune she is “proud” the local pageant has resumed its legacy.
Her late sister Cathy Ervin Overstreet ran the pageant before she did. “Tiff” said “I’m sure my sister is smiling about this” in heaven. Cathy’s name is on the Woman of Achievement award returns with the pageant, and which Shepherd won.
State pageant preliminaries are June 21-23. The pageant will be streamed live June 24, on ABC11.com. This is its 80th anniversary. Its orientation training and “work weekend” for contestants is March 31-April 2, in Greensboro.
To follow Beam’s reign this year, check https://www.facebook.com/MissHendersonville/?fref=ts.