A Weekend For Irish Lassies
Was Justine Wagner surprised with the Miss Shamrock crown was placed on her head? “Oh, yes!”
“I’m very excited. I’m thrilled at such an honor to get something like this,” said 18-year-old Justine Wagner of Emmetsburg.
Justine, daughter of Roger and Jean Wagner, is a senior at Emmetsburg High School. She will participate in festivities this week, sponsored the St. Patrick’s Association. Justine will be at the St. Pat’s Open House on Thursday, and at the Ceili on Friday, in addition to riding in the St. Pat’s Parade Saturday afternoon.
First runner-up in the Miss Shamrock competition was Paige Evans of Estherville. Paige is a senior at Estherville Lincoln Central High School and the daughter of Douglas and Susan Evans. She was also named Miss Congeniality and was presented a gift from the family of the late Dick and Pat Higgins of Emmetsburg.
Second runner-up is Sarah Matthews of Emmetsburg. Sarah is a sophomore at Bishop Garrigan High School and the daughter of Dr. Paul and Laura Matthews.
The judges had a tough job choosing the top three from a field of young ladies that included Miranda Jane Nielson, Callie Hoffman and Bridget Rouse. Miranda is a junior at Emmetsburg High School and the daughter of Laura and Jonathan Petersen of Graettinger. Callie is junior at Spencer High School and the daughter of Nancy Hoffman. Bridget is a senior at Emmetsburg High School and the daughter of Terry and Pam Rouse of Curlew.
The six young contestants were judged on a their talent, their casual wear and formal wear and an on-stage question, in addition to an interview with the judges. Judging the competition were Colleen Flannery Adams of West Des Moines, Ken Lang of Emmetsburg and Linda Handeland of Emmetsburg.
Miranda Nielson performed a vocal solo “How Can I Keep from Singing” by Enya. When she was asked on stage, if she could travel anywhere in the world where would she go and why, Miranda answered she would take a European tour. “I would visit the Netherlands and Spain,” she said, noting that she has become friends with foreign exchange students who have studied at Emmetsburg High School.
Callie Hoffman performed a jazz dance to “So What” by Pink for the talent portion of the program. When asked if she was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars, who her partner would be, Callie answered, Gene Kelly. “Even though he’s no longer living, he’s gone through a lot of dancing and I admire him a lot,” she said.
Bridget Rouse performed a vocal solo “Part of Your World” from “The Little Mermaid” for the talent portion of the program. When asked about how her experiences in 4-H and NFFA have benefited her, Bridged explained, “They taught me to met new people and communication skills.”
Justine Wagner played a violin medley of two Irish jigs, “Garret Barry’s Jig” and “Morrison’s Jig” for the talent portion of the program. When asked how she would advise the new president on environmental issues, Justine responded she would tell him to cut less trees, preserve more and recycle more. “If we don’t, things will disappear and we won’t have them any more,” she said.
Sarah Matthews sang a vocal solo “Defying Gravity” from the musical “Wicked. “When asked about standing up for her beliefs and keeping friendships, Sarah responded you have to “pick the right friends and then it’s easier to stand up for what you believe and keep your friendships.”
Paige Evans performed an Irish Riverdance to Siamsu, a piece selected from Michael Flately’s repertoire. When asked who had inspired her passion for volunteerism, Paige said it was her Mom. “She’s always out there volunteering.” Paige has learned that volunteering helps the community as well as other people.
Each of the Miss Shamrock Contestants received scholarships from Iowa Lakes Community College, up to $500 which can be used at any Iowa Lakes campus as a full time student.
A tribute to the late Mickey Conlon was given at the beginning of the program by April Gunderson, Miss Shamrock 2008. She reminded everyone how Mickey walked at the front of the St. Pat’s Parade, wearing a white suit jacket and green top hat and vest.
“He worked diligently, checking on the progress of committees and ordering supplies,” she said. “Emmetsburg owes Mickey Conlon a deep debt of gratitude for helping keep St. Pat’s alive.”
April also noted, “He made sure all of the queens were well taken care of.”
In memory of Mickey Conlon, April sang two of his favorite Irish songs, “Oh Danny Boy” and “My Wild Irish Rose.”
Special guests at the Miss Shamrock Pageant were Olivia Myers, Miss Iowa 2008, and Val Whitehead, Mrs. Iowa 2009. Interviewed by emcee John Schad, they introduced their platforms.
Olivia Myers’ platform is based on education, involving Teaching Tolerance which helps students thrive in diversity, and Character Counts, a national organization with a strong branch in Iowa. Olivia was second runner-up in the Miss America Pageant. She will complete her senior year at the University of Iowa.
Val Whitehead is working with the American Heart Association, reaching out to other women and spreading education in this important area. Val lives in Spencer and is a certified Nurse Executive. She will be competing in the Mrs. International Pageant in Chicago in July.