“Having a combined show helps the young ladies afford it and saves both the committee and the audience money,” said pageant committee chairwoman Enid Doway.
“I hope that the community will see that pageantry is still alive, that it is a good thing, and see the talent and love for the islands on display,” Doway said.
This year’s show will function mostly the same as previous shows despite the major change in venue and challenges securing support.
“We had some issues with our vendors since many of them have moved away, and issues with finding sponsors. Everyone is still in recovery,” Doway said.
The future of the St. John Festival Royalty Pageant is uncertain.
A new law enacted in 2018 (Act 8153) established the Division of Festivals within the Department of Tourism to organize and execute festivals and re-establish the Virgin Islands Cultural Heritage Institute within the Department of Tourism. The law takes authority away from the independent, volunteer festival and carnival committees that have long overseen the three insular carnivals and festivals. It was a reaction to many years of chaotic financial record keeping.
As of yet, no directors have been announced for the new division and no plans for the administration of next year’s Carnival and Festival events have been announced.
“I have no idea what the future holds,” said Doway.
Though the future of the pageant is not clear, it has left its mark on those who have participated.
“I really enjoyed being a leader and a role model for the community,” said 2018 Miss St. John Festival Queen Chenijah Dawson. “It also gave me a chance to experience the parades of other islands I had not been in. Being in parades was new for me.”
She recently graduated from Gifft Hill School and plans to study business management in the mainland. After graduating she plans to return home to start her own businesses and give back to the community.
“I want to open as many businesses as possible,” Chenijah said.
She encouraged other young women interested in pageantry to “follow your dreams and be prepared for hard work. Stay dedicated and keep an open mind. It really is a great experience.”
Chenijah also made sure to express her gratitude to her team of supporters, the pageant committee, and the community as a whole.
Two young women will vie Saturday for 2019 Miss St. John Festival Queen.
Miss St. John Festival Queen
Contestant No. 1: Zakiyah Gregoire
Zakiyah is the 19-year-old daughter of Jodelcia Joseph and Steve Gregoire Sr. She is studying criminal justice at Johnson and Wales University in North Miami, Florida, is a member of the university’s criminal justice club as well as the LGBTQ Association.
After graduating she plans to become a defense attorney.
This is not Zakiyah’s first foray into the world of pageantry. She previously held the title of Miss Julius E. Sprauve School. Zakiyah describes herself as “an introverted person.”
“I don’t put myself in big crowds often,” Zakiyah said. “I felt that this pageant would be a good opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself. It’s a chance to experience new things.”
When speaking of the pageant experience as a whole Zakiyah said she was most fond of the team working with her. It is headed by her chaperone, Kareema Hendricks-Dover.
“I love my team. They teach me new things and build up my confidence. They have taught me things outside of pageantry, like life skills, too,” Zakiyah said.
Zakiyah also thanked her grandmother Julia Gregoire, her sponsors and the St. John community.
“Thank you to the whole St. John community. St. John isn’t just home, it is family,” Zakiyah said.
Contestant No. 2: Lenisha Richards
Lenisha is the 18-year-old daughter of LeVelle January and Corrie Richards. She is a recent graduate of Ivanna Eudora Kean High School and plans to attend the University of the Virgin Islands in the fall. Her desired major is hospitality and tourism management and she hopes someday to serve as commissioner of the Department of Tourism.
While in high school Lenisha engaged in multiple activities that showcased her talents. She was a member of the Harmonic Rays Choir, the Dynamite Rays Dance Team, the Charming Twirlers Majorettes, and modeled with Gemini Photography VI. Lenisha also ran for the Miss Bertha C. Boschulte title while she was in middle school.
Lenisha said running for Miss St. John Festival Queen has been a long-time dream.
“This has always been a dream of mine. My aunt used to take me to see the pageant when I was younger and I knew it would be me up there one-day,” Lenisha said.
Lenisha said that throughout the journey of vying for Miss St. John Festival Queen she has most enjoyed “getting to meet new people.” She made sure to give thanks to her parents, her friends and supporters, and her favorite teacher, Mrs. Robles.
Two young ladies also will vie for the title of Junior Miss St. John Festival.
Junior Miss St. John Festival
Contestant No. 1: Je’Nique Sylvester
Je’Nique is the 15-year-old daughter of Crystal Turnbull and is a rising sophomore at the
Ivanna Eudora Kean High School. She wants to become a cosmetologist and plans to participate in her school’s cosmetology program next year. When not in school she enjoys spending her time singing, dancing, doing gymnastics, and playing such sports as volleyball and basketball.
Je’Nique has previously run for Little Miss Julius E. Sprauve School. She chose to run for Junior Miss St. John Festival for “a fun experience” and said she has greatly enjoyed “learning new things and breaking out of shyness.”
Je’Nique made sure to thank two of her sponsors, Mr. Piper’s Jeeps and B&C Transport.
Contestant No. 2: Tamyra Bartlette
Tamyra is the 13-year-old daughter of Travis and Watisha Bartlette. She attends the Julius E. Sprauve School and hopes to be a gynecologist in the future. She enjoys spending her free time reading.
Tamyra chose to run for Junior Miss St. John Festival because she had gone to pageants in the past and thought it would be a fun experience.
“It’s a fun experience and I like getting to know the other girls. I also like how the pageant has a strong structure with discipline. It can really help you stay out of trouble,” she said.
Tamyra made sure to give special thanks to her mother.
One couple will vie for St. John Festival Prince and Princess.
St. John Festival Prince and Princess
Lemuel Liburd III
Lemuel is the 8-year-old son of Sharika and Lemuel Liburd Jr. He is a third grader at Julius E. Sprauve School and his favorite subject is art. When he gets older he wants to “help and discover animals” as a veterinarian and a paleontologist.
While running for St. John Festival Prince he has enjoyed “the costumes and singing.”
Elizabeth Farrell is the 9-year-old daughter of Tommy Farrell. She is a third grader at the Gifft Hill School and her favorite subject is art. When she grows up she wants to teach gymnastics and run her own bakery. While running for St. John Festival Princess she has enjoyed “dancing during practice.”
The current schedule for the 2019 St. John Festival is as follows:
Royalty Pageant, 6 p.m. at the Lumberyard. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.
3 p.m. Sunday, June 23, the Festival Boat Races will be held near the Cruz Bay harbor.
7 p.m. Festival Village opens, Cruz Bay Parking Lot.
6 p.m., the Children’s Village, sponsored by the St. John Rotary Club, will open at the small parking lot next to the National Park Ballfield starting June 29.
1 p.m., Festival Emancipation Program at the Cruz Bay Customs parking lot. St. Johnians are already in rehearsal for the traditional play that commemorates the day of July 3, 1848, when slavery was abolished.
6 p.m., Festival Torchlight Parade, Cruz Bay Customs parking lot.
Sunrise, J’ouvert in the V.I. National Park.
9 p.m., Fireworks, Cruz Bay Harbor.
5 p.m., Wet Fete in Frank Powell Park.
Noon, Poker Run, Cruz Bay Harbor.