Miss Greene Co.,
BY VELMA SOUTHERLAND
Hannah Bobinger, of Hendersonville, was named Miss Greene County and Sarah Stokely, of Newport, was named Miss Greater Greeneville on Saturday night in an event that was in several ways a landmark in the history of the Miss Greene County Scholarship Pageant.
Camille Garner, of Tullahoma, was selected first runner-up to Miss Greene County, and Courtney Walker, of Cumberland Gap, was chosen first runner-up to the Miss Greater Greeneville title.
Harley Ramsey, of White Pine, was chosen Miss Greene County Teen Princess, and Elizabeth Painter, of Gray, was selected Miss Greene County Outstanding Teen.
The winners had the additional honor of being crowned by Miss Tennessee Shelby Thompson.
The event, at the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, was distinctive for several reasons in the history of the local pageant.
Having a Miss Tennessee in Greeneville to perform the crowning honors was itself a first for the Miss Greene County organization.
In addition, however, it was the first time that two young women, not one, were selected to represent this area for the Miss Tennessee title.
The state pageant is scheduled for June 2014 in Jackson.
Another significant fact about this year's pageant is that 2013 marks the fifth decade since the first Miss America preliminary local was held in Greeneville in 1963.
The Greeneville Jaycees, a men's civic club which was active here at the time, instituted the Miss Greene County pageant and continued to sponsor and manage it for many years.
After almost three decades, the local pageant was discontinued from 1994-2008.
Then, in 2008, Terri Lamons, the current executive director, revived the Miss Greene County local event as a preliminary to the Miss Tennessee/Miss America Scholarship Pageant.
'ONE OF THE BEST'
Lamons said that Saturday's pageant was "one of the best we've ever had.
"Not only were the contestants all beautiful; they were all intelligent."
She arrived at that conclusion after reviewing the scores from the private interviews with the pageant judges.
"Scoring was very close. It's amazing how intelligent they all are," Lamons said of the young women from all over the state.
The Miss Greene County/Miss Greater Greeneville pageant and most other local Miss Tennessee/Miss America pageants across Tennessee are open to any young woman who meets the eligibility requirements, as long as she is a resident of the state.
It was no surprise that Miss Greene County 2013, Sarah Stokely, was selected for the Miss Greater Greeneville title, which is in its first year.
Stokely was first runner-up at this year's state competition, and, as the reigning Miss Greene County, was not allowed to compete to wear the same crown for another year, for another trip to the state pageant.
On Saturday evening, Stokely wowed the audience with her chill-bump-inducing rendition of "How Great Thou Art."
As the evening drew to a close, it was revealed that Stokely had also won the Jack Burkhard Memorial Scholarship, presented each year by his widow, Ali Burkhard, to the contestant with the highest score in the judges' interview.
The private judges' interview counts for a whopping 25 percent of the total score. Talent counts for 35 percent, Evening Wear is 20 percent, Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit is 15 percent, and the Onstage Question counts five percent.
Miss Greene County 2014 is Hannah Bobinger of Hendersonville, whose powerful rendition of "Astonishing" from the musical "Little Women" was another of the strong talent showings from all eight of the contestants.
The two winners will each receive a $500 scholarship, a $1,000 wardrobe package courtesy of Southern Belle Bridal, hair design courtesy of Kirk Malone, House of Style, nails by Sandy Davis, a Bright Smile package courtesy of Tusculum Dental Care, and skincare courtesy of Changes Medical Spa in Johnson City.
In addition to Stokely, there was another young woman who won two scholarships: Garner, as first runner-up to Bobinger, will receive a $250 scholarship.
Garner was selected as Miss Congeniality by her peers and received a scholarship which was instituted last year and is being raised annually by the former Miss Greene County title-holders in memory of the late Dale Ann Dyke Ladd, Miss Greene County 1973.
Also winning a $250 scholarship was Walker as first runner-up to the Miss Greater Greeneville title.
The two runners-up also each performed a fairly unusual talent -- spoken monologues. Garner's was a lighthearted "Sunbonnet Sue" and dealt with sibling rivalry and the well-known quilt pattern by that name.
Walker was almost "astonishing" as she used a Rubik's cube as a prop during her presentation of the inspirational speech "Colorful Combinations."
As she talked, she would occasionally and casually twist the multi-colored cube she held in her hands.
Then, as her speech ended, in perfect timing, with one final twist, she presented a perfectly-worked cube to an audience that gasped in surprise.
TEEN WINNER HAS LOCAL TIES
Elizabeth Painter, 16, Greene County's Outstanding Teen, has Greene County roots and a legacy with the Miss Tennessee Pageant. Both sets of her grandparents were from Greeneville.
Her grandmother, Mrs. Howard (JoAnn) Painter, and numerous other family members were in the audience to cheer her on.
Her mother, the former Susan Leonard, was Miss Johnson City in 1990 and first runner-up at Miss Tennessee in 1991. Elizabeth's aunt, Sarah Leonard Vaughn, was Miss Tennessee 1980.
The Teen divisions compete in active wear instead of swimwear and the Princess category does not participate in either talent or the onstage question portion.
While Miss Greene County was being crowned, she kept saying, "I deserve it for that question, I deserve it for that question."
And indeed she did draw a difficult question from the fish bowl, but then so did Walker.
At the end of the competition, each contestant is asked to draw a question, prepared by the judges, from a bowl.
The slip of paper is then handed to the emcee -- on Saturday it was Thompson -- who reads the question the contestant has blindly chosen for herself.
Bobinger's question was: "Obamacare is largely based on conservative ideas, so why do you think Obamacare has so few Republican proponents?"
Bobinger took a split-second and a few words to wrap her mind around the question before answering basically that the Republicans seemed to be trying to buy time to help employers provide insurance for their employees.
The best, most complicated, reply of the evening came from Walker, who was asked what she would want her legacy to be, if she ever became governor of the State of Tennessee.
Walker, an agriculture major at Tennessee Tech whose platform is "From Seed to Served," said that she would like her legacy to be leaving the state with the ability to be self-sufficient and self-sustainable.
She discussed the expected population growth and the necessity of feeding more people on less land, and said she hoped she would lead the state to "volunteer our time to feed our families."
When it came time for Stokely to select her question from the bowl, she pulled from the bowl what turned out to be a disjointed question that had two seemingly disparate parts.
Stokely looked at Thompson after she read it and asked if she would mind re-reading the first part of the question. After she did so, Stokely requested that she re-read the last part of the question.
She then answered the question.
The two friends were relaxed and having fun together. They had been in the same group at Miss Tennessee, so they had worked and rehearsed together throughout the Miss Tennessee Pageant in June.
Then, at the end, they were the final two contestants standing before it was announced that Thompson would be Miss Tennessee and Stokely was first runner-up.
So, on the NPAC stage Saturday evening, it was two experienced, poised pageant friends having a little fun.
Greeneville's Whittney Marshall elicited perhaps the best chuckle of the evening.
She was asked how family is relevant in a technologically-advanced society.
Marshall mentioned the love and compassion that exist between family members before concluding, "A computer cannot be there for you like your mama can."
Others providing chuckles were Jerry Scott, back in town to provide entertainment throughout the evening, and Mistress of Ceremonies Brooke Waddell Pancratz just being herself.
She even offered -- or threatened -- to do a stand-up comedy routine as the judges' numbers were being fed into the computer and verified by Joyce Nance of West Greene Tax Service.
However, it was Miss Tennessee Shelby Thompson herself, who along with Brian Bragdon had shared emcee duties with Pancratz, who told the most touching story of the evening.
As the numbers were being calculated, Thompson discussed the Miss America organization, noting that it is the largest source of scholarships for young women in the USA.
She revealed that her own mother was from a single-parent home and had no way to go to college.
Then, Thompson said, her grandmother learned that the pageants offered scholarships for the winners. The two decided that Thompson's mother would enter some pageants to see if she might win some scholarships.
Thompson said her mother and grandmother obtained material and made dresses on the kitchen table of their mobile home, as well as purchased discounted gowns.
Thompson's mother was chosen Miss Chattanooga, then won third runner-up at Miss Tennessee. The scholarship money she earned got her started in college.
Thompson, herself, has won more than $26,000 in college scholarships, is debt-free, and said she is looking forward to using her scholarship money to pay part of the expenses for her master's degree work.