Being Miss Maumee Valley

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pageant Press: Mansfield News Journal Coverage

Every year the Mansfield News Journal does a great job covering Miss Ohio; this year was no exception. Photos, articles and audio interviews can be found HERE.

However, this link won’t last forever, so I’ve copied each of the articles below. Additionally, I’ve created a Webshots album exclusively of their photos. In my opinion, they’re easier to view on Webshots than the paper's site, and I rearranged the photos in contestant order, per night.

She's dreamed of being Miss America since age 3
By Lisa Miller News Journal

MANSFIELD -- When Melanie Murphy didn't make it on her first attempt to be a Cleveland Cavaliers dancer, she tried again and made the cut. She took that same philosophy to her second Miss Ohio Scholarship Pageant and captured the crown Saturday night.

"I would have come back a third time," the petite blonde said. At age 20, "I still have a few more years."

Wearing a white dress dotted with different shades of her favorite color, pink, Murphy sat on pageant business manager Terri Tinsman's front porch Monday and talked about the hard work she put in to top the field of 24 young women. Murphy, this year's Miss Miami Valley, worked with a trainer and a nutritionist to achieve the fitness level that won her a preliminary swimsuit title on the Renaissance Theatre stage last week. She confessed to having a sweet tooth and had to trade in her favorite cookies for fruit-flavored vitamins.

A dancer since the age of 3, Murphy said becoming Miss America has "always been a dream of mine." She recalled always sitting "real close to the TV" to watch the annual pageant. "I just wanted to be like Miss America."

When Murphy originally tried out for the Cavs dance team two years ago, she said she wasn't at her best. She said she couldn't live with giving less than her best and had to go back and try again. That time she attended the pre-audition workshops and "got my face out there" so the choreographer would remember her.

"I was very proud of myself," Murphy said of landing a spot on the team. It gave her a chance to perform and travel, but also caused some stress in her life. "I was really tested a lot this year," she said. "God was just testing me. I think I handled it very well."

And now it's off to the big show in six weeks. She plans to do some shopping, of course, but as far as her costumes and gowns, "I'm going to reuse as much as I can."

In an attempt to boost sagging TV ratings, the pageant will select regional winners and take on a reality show format before the finalists compete in January.

Citing "Dancing with the Stars" and "American Idol" as examples of programs that let viewers make their selections, Murphy said, "Change is good. Change is very good." She thinks she has the kind of personality, "feisty, very sassy, very colorful," that will play well on the new format.

That feistiness comes out in response to a question about the value of pageants. "They need to be educated," Murphy said of those critical of the program. "It is not a beauty pageant."

She listed the paperwork, including a resume and 20-page contract involved in entering the program, along with performance rehearsals and fitness training as part of the hard work before admitting, however, "Being beautiful definitely helps."
Hometown: Brook Park

Education: A junior at Cleveland State University majoring in journalism and promotional communication, she'll be taking 18 months off to complete her Miss Ohio duties.

Platform: Volunteerism. She says there are "numerous benefits" to volunteering and that people can use their passions to help others. Calling her time helping Hurricane Katrina victims in Slidell, La., "most memorable and most rewarding," Murphy said, "You just learn a lot from people."

Background: In addition to being a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers dance team and reviewing movies for Adelphia Cable, Murphy appeared on "Let's Get the Party Started," a UPN reality show in which she was a cheerleading boot camp instructor.

Hobbies: "I love to shop." She also enjoys volunteering, singing, dancing and being creative.

Goals: After her busy pageant week, Murphy would just like to get a little sleep. She can see herself working in TV, perhaps in anchor work, appearing on a talk show or in production or editing. 419-521-7240
Originally published July 11, 2006
Cavs dancer wins Miss Ohio crown
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Outgoing Miss Ohio Marlia Fontaine placed the crown on her successor Saturday night at Miss Ohio Scholarship Program.

Miss Ohio 2006 is Miss Miami Valley Melanie Murphy, a Cleveland Cavaliers dancer whose platform is promoting volunteerism.

The 20-year-old from Brook Park repeatedly exclaimed, "Oh my God!" and thanked the judges. "I'm going to Miss America," she shouted from the stage to well-wishers in the Renaissance Theatre.

Murphy was crowned Miss Ohio 2006 at the packed theater, capturing the title from a field of 23 other contestants in the statewide program. It was her second year competing.

Earlier this week, Murphy captured a preliminary swimsuit award, having worked diligently with her personal trainer and nutritionist. She delighted the audience with an interpretive Latin dance to "Pump It" by the Black Eyed Peas.

Murphy, a Cleveland State University journalism and promotional communication major, received a $10,000 scholarship from Newman Technology, a $1,000 scholarship from Embarq and other awards.
She will compete in the Miss America Scholarship Program.

Miss Greater Dayton Becky Minger, 18, of Sylvania, took runner-up, and won $4,500 in scholarships.

Second runner-up Miss Buckeye State Allie Krucek, 21, of North Canton, won a $3,500 scholarship.

Third runner-up Miss Stark County Elyse Healey, 20, of Canfield, received a $2,250 scholarship.

Fourth runner-up Miss Lake Erie Leslie Ondrey, 23, of North Olmsted, won a $1,500 scholarship.

Rounding out the top 10 were Miss Maumee Valley Abby Bollenbacher, 24, of Rockford; Miss Scioto Valley Roberta Camp, 22, of Orient; Miss Clayland Kasey Wilson, 19, of Granville; Miss Northwestern Ohio Marisa Minor, 19, of Fort Recovery; and Miss Portsmouth Nanciann Strosnider, 20, of Amelia. 419-521-7223
Originally published July 9, 2006
Opera reigns; swimwear ties
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Opera singers 3, other talents 0.
That's the tally after three nights of Miss Ohio 2006 Scholarship Program preliminaries at the Renaissance Theatre in downtown Mansfield.

On Friday night, an opera singer from Texas claimed the talent title. Miss Greater Cleveland Laura Estrada, 21, of Woodland, Texas, a newcomer to the Miss Ohio stage, captured the talent award, singing "Una Voce Poco Fa" by Gioacchino Rossini.

She receives a $700 scholarship from Richland Bank. After the show, Estrada said she was shocked to hear her name called.

"I tried very hard," she said. "I'm a very harsh critic of myself. But I still was really hoping that I won. I just couldn't believe it."
Estrada, who started competing in the Miss Teen Texas competition at 15, now attends Oberlin Conservatory of Music after looking at many schools for opera. Attending an Ohio institution of higher education qualifies a contestant to enter Miss Ohio.

"Teachers there are fabulous. They have a wonderful opera program, and they have also have a voice laboratory, and I was very interested in that because you get to learn the science of singing," she said.

Estrada said being in pageants has helped her improve herself. "It's helped me so much over the years. I don't think I would be where I am today if it had not been for the Miss America organization," Estrada said.

Two contestants tied for swimsuit honors Friday. Both credited personal trainers for their shapely physiques.

Miss Greater Dayton Becky Minger, 18, of Sylvania, and Miss Miami Valley Melanie Murphy, 20, of Brook Park, each took home a $500 scholarship award from Richland Bank in the final round of preliminaries.

Murphy, who wore a hot-pink two-piece, said she keeps fit by working out five days a week with a personal trainer. She also has a nutritionist.

A lot of cardiovascular training and weightlifting produced the results she wanted. Murphy, whose platform is "volunteerism," said going to Miss America is something she has always wanted to do.

Minger, who wore an aqua two-piece, said she does strength training three days a week. She entered her first pageant on the advice of her high school guidance counselor.

"I'm in this to have a great time. And I am. If I were to win, that would be wonderful, and hopefully I could go around the state and talk to teens about their self esteem," Minger said.

During Friday's pre-show, Miss Ohio board member Drena McCurdy, of Lexington, was chosen as a volunteer of the year.

Outgoing Miss Ohio 2005 Marlia Fontaine performed two vocal selections, "Summertime" and "Impossible Dream," the latter of which she performed at Miss America, thanking her family for their support during the year-long reign.

The final night of competition begins tonight at 7:30 p.m. for the 24 contestants. Ten contestants with the highest preliminary scores will advance in tonight's final competition.

The new Miss Ohio will go on to compete in the Miss America Scholarship Program. The titleholder wins a $10,000 scholarship from Newman Technology and a $1,000 scholarship from Embarq. 419-521-7223
Originally published July 8, 2006
Double-winner, second opera singer capture evening No. 2
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Leslie Ondrey said she's wanted to be Miss America since she was 4 years old. In order to become Miss Ohio, she will now have to overcome the "curse" of being a double preliminary winner.

Ondrey, 23, of North Olmsted, captured the preliminary swimsuit award Thursday night at the Renaissance Theatre in a two-piece coral swimsuit, having won the talent award on Wednesday night, singing "Prima Donna."

Ondrey, who won the Miss Lake Erie program to qualify for Miss Ohio, afterward spoke of "the double-prelim curse." "So nobody's gonna want to ride in the car with me or be anywhere near me. I just have to watch out for ladders and black cats," she joked.

For the second night in a row, an opera singer captured the preliminary talent competition. Miss Clayland Kasey Wilson, 19, of Granville, sang the aria, "Time to Say Goodbye."

Wilson said she was excited to have won talent. A top-10 finisher last year, Wilson said she chose the song, "Time to Say Goodbye" because she sang it the first time she won a preliminary pageant.
"Since then it's obviously carried me very far. And I basically chose it for that last note. It seems like it held a nice ring, talent win," Wilson said.

Wilson said she wants to promote her platform, Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Wilson said she has not lost someone to drunk driving or had something happen to herself. "But the question is, why wait?" she said.

The 24 contestants will participate in the third preliminary night of competition tonight at 7:05 p.m. On Saturday, beginning at 7:30 p.m., the new Miss Ohio will be crowned by Miss Ohio 2005 Marlia Fontaine. The winner goes on to compete for in the Miss America Scholarship Program.

This year, more than $49,000 in scholarships will be awarded to the Miss Ohio contestants.

On Thursday night, James Grimes, executive director of the Miss Lake Erie Pageant, was named, "Volunteer of the Year" by the Miss Ohio organization. 419-521-7223
Originally published July 7, 2006
Best friends snag first night's Miss Ohio wins
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD --Two "best friends" from the Cleveland area won the preliminary talent and swimsuit competitions at opening night of the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program on Wednesday at the Renaissance Theatre.

Miss Lake Erie, Leslie Ondrey, 23, of North Olmsted, wowed the judges by singing "Prima Donna" from "Phantom of the Opera." She received a $700 preliminary talent scholarship award from Richland Bank.

Miss North Coast, Jillian Dansko, 21, of Seven Hills, won the swimsuit competition and a $500 scholarship from Richland Bank. The two women, wearing teal evening gowns at a post-competition meeting with reporters, said they dreamed of being together at the Miss Ohio press conference. Each said they wouldn't mind if the other wins.

"I would still go around (Ohio) with her (if Ondrey wins)," Dansko said. "And it's vice versa for the both of us."
Ondrey nodded in agreement.

Both are Miss Ohio veterans. This is Dankso's second competition; Ondrey is making her third try for the title that leads to the Miss America stage.

Dansko said she worked out regularly since winning the Miss North Coast title in hopes of capturing a preliminary swimsuit award. She said she has always been fit, but this year she wanted to be muscular.

Noting that Miss America began as a swimsuit pageant, Dansko said she supports keeping that tradition alive.

"Swimsuit is not about being a size zero. Swimsuit is about being comfortable in your own skin, and right now is the best that I have ever been," she said.

Ondrey, performing in a lavish purple gown, said she chose "Prima Donna" as her vocal selection because she first saw "Phantom of the Opera" when she was 14.

"It was my first live theater performance ... " she said. "By the time the musical had ended, I was completely overcome with joy, I was crying my eyes out and grabbed hold of my mother's arm and said, 'Mommy, this is what I have to do with my life.'"

Preliminary competition continues at 7:05 p.m. today and Friday. The new Miss Ohio will be crowned Saturday night in a program that begins at 7:30 p.m. 419-521-7223
Originally published July 6, 2006
Miss Ohio keeps fans coming back
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Retired Mans-field police officer John Hurlow has attended the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program all 31 years the pageant has been held in Mansfield.

"I started directing traffic at the five-way light. That was my first assignment," he said.

Hurlow, now a Miss Ohio board member, was selling programs at the Renaissance Theatre Wednesday evening. "I just kept coming back. I enjoy the shows," he said.

Susie Krajnyak, 45, of Bellaire, Ohio, was attending Miss Ohio preliminary competition for the first time.

"Quite frankly, I didn't know I was going to walk into such a professional, elaborate production," she said. "... The city of Mansfield has really embraced this pageant from the parade to all of the sponsors to the lunches and all of the dinners. This is really a community effort."

Drena McCurdy, Miss Ohio board vice president, has been coming to the show for about 25 years.

"I first started attending it with my daughter, Theresa Ann Wagner," she said, when Theresa was just 16.

"I love it. I love it for the contestants. I love the excitement of it and I love being here with many, many, many friends in the Miss Ohio family," McCurdy said.

McCurdy's family has donated many scholarships to the program since her daughter died in 1992 in a tragic plane crash. Theresa Ann was a veteran Miss Ohio contestant.

Miss Ohio board member Pat Anthony, of Edison, Ohio, has been coming to the pageant 13 years.

"I was at every one except the year that Kristi Cooke (formerly Wink) won and I was in Paris," she said.

"I love the Miss Ohio people," Anthony said.

Berkley Little, of Hartford, Conn. has been coming to Miss Ohio the past 16 years.

Little, who is active in the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Program, even participated in the Wednesday night show's finale.
"It's my first time to sing," he said. 419-521-7223
Originally published July 6, 2006
Miss Ohio program will return to its traditional June date next year
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD -- After being bumped back to July this year, the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program will return next year to its traditional June timeframe, and to downtown.
Miss Ohio board member Jeri Waite said the Miss Ohio pageant in 2007 and in 2008 will be wrapped up on the Saturday before Father's Day.

"We've already found out from the (Mansfield and Richland County) Convention and Visitors Bureau that the national Cushman convention will be in town but there will be plenty of hotel rooms," Waite said.This year, all 139 rooms in the downtown Holiday Inn, which serves as headquarters for Miss Ohio contenders and their families, were sold out for the International Harvester Collectors' 17th annual National Red Power Round Up at the Richland County Fairgrounds during the usual Miss Ohio dates.So the Miss Ohio festival was scheduled for July 1 in cooperation with Mansfield Motorsports Speedway at its racetrack on Crall Road.

Next year, the 25th National Cushman Club of America convention will be held at the Richland County Fairgrounds June 10-16, overlapping the June 8-16 Miss Ohio dates.However, the scooter event and Miss Ohio coincided without incident in 2001, said Lee Tasseff, executive director of the visitor's bureau.The Cushman event will bring about 1,200 people to Mansfield and use 400 to 500 rooms per night, bureau convention sales director Kim Miers said.On Wednesday, the Renaissance Theatre was in full swing as some of this year's Miss Ohio contestants rehearsed their talent selections for competition, which continues today, Friday and Saturday.Some changes are in store for the new Miss Ohio as she moves on to the national pageant.

The Miss America Scho-larship Program and Country Music Television will cooperate on a reality series, "Finding Miss America," to be held in Los Angeles Sept. 5-13. The finals are scheduled to take place in early 2007.Miss Mansfield Sophia Davis, 20, of Pickerington, said she likes the reality show tie-in since it's so popular in American culture right now."I'm hoping that they focus on the positive of Miss America and really get the good side of every contestant," she said.

Mansfield's representative in the scholarship program reported a costume malfunction before the contestants' luncheon at the Mansfield Noon Optimist Club at the Holiday Inn on Wednesday."On my way here I actually got a huge spot on my white dress," Davis said. Fortunately, her chaperones "had some really, really good tricks to get that stain out. It was a big stain, probably the size of a fist. They used Sweet 'N Low to rub it in there and get it out."Davis was looking forward to the first night of competition.

"The backdrop is very sparkly and so is my dress so I'll actually look like a star," she said.Davis had her interview on Tuesday and competes in talent today and swimsuit on Friday.Joan Davis took two weeks of vacation to be near her daughter during the pageant."She's doing as great as can be expected. She's just being herself. Calm," said Joan Davis, who with other parents watched the morning talent rehearsal from the back of the theater. "I'm more nervous for her than she is for herself."Calling herself "prepared," Davis said she does have a good luck charm of sorts."Whenever I enter a room, or whenever I enter on stage, I always touch the room door or entrance on stage or curtains. I have done that already for interview, and I think my interview went very well," Davis said."I think my good-luck method is working very well." 419-521-7223
Originally published July 6, 2006
Miss Ohio contestants prepped for busy week ahead
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

ONTARIO — Miss Ohio contestants work up an appetite.

Miss Mansfield Sophia Davis raised scholarship money for the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program at Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar on Monday night before breaking to eat and heading back to the Renaissance Theatre for more rehearsals.

She wasn’t alone. Twenty-three other contestants also trolled the restaurant for donations to the cause before returning to the task at hand — learning production numbers for four nights of competition.“The stage is absolutely awesome. We have great lighting, great music, great dances. I think the crowd is really going to enjoy Miss Ohio this year,” said Davis, a newcomer to the Miss Ohio stage.nDavis, an accomplished dancer from Pickerington, said she looks forward to the interview segment of competition today. She competes in evening wear on Wednesday, talent on Thursday and swimsuit on Friday.“And I’m praying I will be competing on Saturday as well in the Top 10,” she added.“What’s so great about this program is that we all have a dream, we all have goals, we all have aspirations to achieve those goals. I’m so proud of every single one of us for getting on this stage,” Davis said.

Newcomer Miss Marion Popcorn Festival Mary Krouse, 21, of Powell, said her first full day of rehearsal was interesting.“We have been blocking all of the little performances that we’ll be doing in between all the talent and swimsuit and everything,” said Krouse, also a dancer. “It’s a little overwhelming. There’s a lot of things to learn in a very short period of time. That’s definitely a challenge, but it’s definitely a lot of fun. The music is great. The girls are a lot of fun.”

Miss Central Ohio Jodi Greene, 23, of LaRue, also is making her Miss Ohio debut.A teacher of children with autism in Dublin, Greene, a singer, is pursuing a master’s degree at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.Miss Circleville Heather Strickland, 20, of Massillon, said Monday night the Miss Ohio experience is “everything and a little more” than she thought it would be.“We’re eating a lot and I didn’t expect that,” she said, laughing. “You diet and eat so healthy leading up to the pageant and then it gets here and everything just goes out the window,” she said. “That’s been really fun. My most fun so far would’ve been at the (Miss Ohio) parade. That was my first time I’ve ever been in a parade and that was a blast.”

Strickland, who performs “Popular” as Glenda from the Broadway musical “Wicked,” said she wants to be Miss Ohio to make a difference with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program.A future law enforcement officer who joins the police academy in August at Stark State College, Strickland proclaimed herself “the world’s worst dancer. It should’ve been a requirement to be in the pageant,” she said.“I’m learning. ... My favorite step is the boxed square,” she laughed.

Originally published July 4, 2006
Shoes the stars of festive Miss Ohio event24 contestants make way down Park Avenue
By Lisa Miller News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Fancy shoes, stylish hats and plenty of red, white and blue were the fashi- on statements of the day when the Miss Ohio Festival Parade rolled down Park Avenue on Sunday afternoon.

Specially created for the longtime parade tra- dition, "Show Us Your Shoes," 24 contestants wore or carried footwear designed to reflect platforms, personalities and pageant cities.

Miss Greater Cleveland Laura Estrada, whose platform is teenage driving safety, had a red toy car on her foot. Miss Greater Dayton Becky Minger showcased the city's aviation history with a red, white and blue plane. An Ohio Stadium replica encircled Miss Clayland Kasey Wilson's black pump. Miss Circleville Heather Strickland wore a rhinestone-studded pumpkin that not only reflected the town's annual Pumpkin Festival but also matched her orange hat. The wide-brimmed chapeaux worn by many of the contestants help- ed keep the sun out of their eyes. Old cars, new motorcycles, Girl Scouts and Elks members all moved along the parade route with some participants passing out gum, candy and other goodies. Aaron Campbell, 12, and Isiah Haywood, 8, were able to snag pieces of gum some of the participants were passing out along with candy and other goodies.

The 114-unit parade that started under slightly overcast skies ended beneath a blazing sun 90 minutes later.

Steve and Debbie Kramer weren't completely sure what the weather was going to do. The Ashland vendors were at the Miss Ohio Festival and Freedom Festival at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway until 2 a.m. Sunday, arriving on the city square about 10:30 a.m. Fearing rain or even hail, they just set up their airbrush tattoo booth but not all of the jewelry they usually sell.

"We'd like to see more people become aware of it," Debbie said of the event as Steve completed a blue rose design on 11-year-old Heather Hilson's leg. "It helps promote the downtown shops."

Bowling Green State University students Amber Long of Lexington, Erica Burger of Cleveland and Courtney Jordan of Shelby held posters and a photo to cheer on sorority sister Kristen Haas, Miss Chillicothe. Burger's younger sisters, Nicole Burger and Emily Doyle, were also along for the fun.

Ed Branham and three of his kids, Ashley, Josh and Katlynn, were dining on hot dogs and chips while they waited for mom Shannon and daughters Shelby and Skyler to come along with one of the baton groups.

"Hopefully it (doesn't) rain on us," the Mansfield man said.

Mother and daughter Carmen and Renae Willis were also ladies in waiting, wanting to see father James Willis in his Shriners club car. The two said they got to the parade about 15 minutes before the 2 p.m. start time and still had a good spot along the curb to set up their chairs.

Another mom and daughter duo, Gerry Garver and Jan Garver, brought Jan's dogs Hershey and Cody to the big march.

"They love parades," Jan said of her pets, a greyhound and an Italian greyhound, sporting red, white and blue leashes and collars.

The dogs weren't the only ones in patriotic garb. Raven Adams was dressed in a miniature Uncle Sam outfit to watch parade with her family. The 4-year-old said she wasn't hot in the Halloween costume her grandmother Kathy Cushard bought a few years back. Cushard, who lives on Glessner Avenue, said the family comes to the Miss Ohio Festival Parade every year.

Mansfield Police Sgt. Joy Stortz was one of the officers stationed at each intersection from Marion Avenue to the square. Standing near Mr. T's Coffee Shop, she said the size of the crowd looked about normal for the annual event. 419-521-7240
Originally published July 3, 2006
Miss Ohio candidates get involved with July 4 excitement in Ontario
By Ron Simon News Journal

"He's cool and wet and I can feel him moving," the Miss Ohio candidate said as she clutched her frog. "I can feel his heart beating. Poor little guy.''

Murphy and the "poor little guy'' were in a special frog jumping contest for Miss Ohio contestants at the Ontario Fourth of July celebration Saturday afternoon.

As she and several other contestants found out, it is hard to make a frog jump. But once it does, it is equally hard to catch it. Fortunately for the contestants, there were any number of little boys more than willing to chase down escaping frogs.

Howard Harriman of the Ontario Lions Club said he and some fellow Lions fished 15 sizable frogs out of a private pond Friday night.
"We have to return them tonight," he said.

Ontario's Fourth of July show was held on the high school grounds on a perfect summer day of intense heat and strong winds.

"It's supposed to reach the 90s," show committee member Gino Mollica said. "I hope that won't keep people away."

If early crowd was any indication, that would never happen.

In that crowd, girls wearing pink T-shirts were Miss Ohio contestants, taking part in all the early contests including an egg toss and catch. Sophia Davis, Miss Mansfield, said her strategy was "stay back as far as possible."

"Aaahhhh!" was Zack Spenser's only comment when a tossed egg shattered in his hand. "He threw it too hard," Spenser, 13, said of his partner, Jordan Gerhart, 13. "We won this thing last year." Spenser then chased Gerhart down to share the egg that was smeared all over his hand.

The winners were Tony Finley, 22, and Brandon Bechtler, 20, both of Ontario, who wound up with egg-smeared hands but a medal to go with them.

Kids were bouncing on the Euro Bungy and lemonade was selling big time. "Line Drive" was playing on the stage and at 5:30 p.m. Ontario's Fourth of July parade, led by the Ontario High School Warrior Band, would parade along Shelby-Ontario Road between Milligan Road and the high school.

The day would end with fireworks at 10 p.m.

Show chairman John Williams said this is the fourth year for the show at Ontario High School.

"We know they did shows like this in the '60s and '70s and they got very big before the whole thing was disbanded. So we decided to bring it back," he said.

One of the highlights of the day was a Stealth F-117 flyover. 419-521-7230
Originally published July 2, 2006
Local dancers thrilled to take Miss Ohio stageBy Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Two dozen young women are the focal point of the Miss Ohio Scholarship Program. One will be selected for the Miss America competition.

But that doesn't make next week's event any less exciting for eight even younger women, members of the Richland Academy Dance Ensemble, featured dancers for this year's event at the historic Renaissance Theatre.

Emily L. Patterson, the academy's director of dance and choreographer for the dance ensemble, will pull double duty. She's also the choreographer for the 24 Miss Ohio contestants. That training won't start until contestants arrive this weekend. On Wednesday, however, Patterson was busy working with her own dancers -- Liz Dunlap, Sarah Gilmore, Kelsey Gorman, Jessica Mikelait, Micki Scopel, Dallas Williamson, Meredith Priess, and Ann Tager.
"Let's see lots of energy. This is the opening number," Patterson told the dancers as "Seasons of Love" from the musical "Rent" began playing in the academy's dance studio.

Dunlap, 16, a senior this fall at Mansfield Senior High School, will be a featured solo dancer. She's nervous and excited at the same time. "I'm super excited because (Miss Ohio) is such a big deal," she said.

Dunlap said her favorite dance number is "Vogue" by Madonna. "I get to dress as a guy," she said.

Tager, 13, an eighth-grader at Malabar Middle School, said she looks forward to performing in front of the large crowd. "And being on TV," Tager said, noting WMFD televises the final night of competition July 8.

Gilmore, 14, a freshman at Mansfield Christian School, said she loves dancing in public. "I love performing. That's the best part of dance," Gilmore said.

The dancers said Gorman, who will be a senior at St. Peter's High School this fall, is the only member of their ensemble who one day may become a Miss Ohio contestant. Those comments made Gorman laugh.

"I've been going to it for years, and this year it's going to be fun performing and being backstage," Gorman said.

Patterson, 25, who commutes from Hudson to the academy, is in her first year of teaching there. She is a 2003 graduate of Bowling Green State University, with a degree in dance performance.

Patterson said she likes teaching dance and knows some contestants are performing dance as their talent in the competition.

"Since it's a mixed group, like any class I offer, you really need to break it down. I like to think of it as simplicity at its best. My job is to make the contestants look their best," she said.

Contestants will dance to a couple of Elvis Presley songs. "It's a really great mix of Elvis Presley songs. They also will dance to 'I'm Alive' by Celine Dion," she said.

Patterson has been dancing since age 3. "I like to call myself a jazz bunny. Jazz is my favorite. I love all kinds of dance. Ballet gives you that strong technical background that every dancer should have, but jazz is my thing," she said.

Miss Ohio contestants arrive Saturday, appearing at 12:30 p.m. at the Fourth of July Festival at Ontario High School and in the Mansfield Freedom Festival/Miss Ohio Festival at Mansfield Motorsports Speedway in the evening.

Contestants also will be showcased in the Miss Ohio Parade downtown Sunday at 2 p.m. before joining Patterson on stage to begin their own dance rehearsals. 419-521-7223
Originally published June 29, 2006
Big crew getting ready to welcome Miss Ohio contest hopefuls
By Lou Whitmire News Journal

MANSFIELD --Just a few days before two dozen Miss Ohio contestants arrive in Mansfield, local volunteers are working to make it a great experience for the young women.

Terri Tinsman, the Miss Ohio program's business manager, will arrive bright and early today at the Renaissance Theatre to begin building the set.

Tinsman, also the stage manager, will be joined by father and son, Ray Smith and Garry Smith of GAS Construction, who'll create the stage. On Monday, Tinsman said she tries not to sweat what could be a pressure-packed week. "You're running on total adrenaline and you try to make it the time of the lives of the contestants," she said.
"I will live (at the theater) until Miss Ohio is crowned," Tinsman said.

Tinsman and about 200 volunteers from across the state converge on Mansfield each year for the competition that produces the state's Miss America contestant. Contestants arrive on Saturday; the winner will be crowned July 8.

Miss Ohio fans won't be disappointed when the curtains open July 5. Tinsman said she is excited about this year's show.
"We're hoping to cover a lot of areas and please a lot of people with this year's show," she said. "Contestants will be wearing something that expresses their personality in the opening number."
The opening will feature contestants singing a song from the Broadway musical, "Rent."

John Kunkel, the show's producer, said the audience is in for a few surprises.

Contestants will compete in preliminary competition July 5-7 at the theater. 419-521-7223
Originally published June 27, 2006


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