Miss Michigan to attend 66th Dowagiac pageant

Published 11:47 am Tuesday, January 4, 2005

By Staff
DOWAGIAC - Another page will be turned in Dowagiac history when the 66th Miss Dowagiac Scholarship Pageant welcomes to the Grand Old City Miss Michigan 2004 Kelli J. Talicska.
The event itself bids farewell to what has been its home for generations - the Central Middle School auditorium that dates back to the mid-1920s.
Thirteen young women will vie for the 2005 Miss Dowagiac crown during the scholarship competition on Saturday, Jan. 22, which is sponsored by the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce.
If hosting 24-year-old Miss Michigan isn't special enough, the 66th pageant will also mark the first year for the new Miss Dowagiac to have the opportunity to enter preliminary competitions that could take her to the Miss Michigan/America or Miss Michigan/USA pageants.
In late summer the executive committee of the Miss Dowagiac Scholarship Pageant announced plans to redefine its commitment to the local community and to expand the opportunities it provides to the local queen and to her court. In doing so, pageant officials stepped away from their longtime affiliation with the Blossomtime Festival.
Up until now, the Dowagiac pageant was among 24 community competitions that were steppingstones to the Miss Blossomtime Pageant, an event leading up to springtime's annual gala in the Twin Cities.
"This is a very proud and exciting moment for our pageant, and for our community, to be in a position to host Miss Michigan at our Jan. 22 pageant," said Pageant Director Tracy Galbreath in her announcement on Monday.
Rich in history and social significance, the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant is a not-for-profit corporation that has maintained a tradition for many decades of empowering Michigan women to achieve their personal and professional goals, while providing a forum in which to express their opinions, talent and intelligence. It was ranked tenth in the nation for cash scholarships awarded in 1999.
Having returned in September from the Miss America 2005 Pageant, the 24-year-old Auburn native is now touring Michigan and neighboring states, as she shares her vision and values with others. When she appears on stage at the Miss Dowagiac Scholarship Pageant, Talicska will talk about her platform, "Speech, Language and Hearing: Foundations for Life," as she also shares with the contestants and the audience the most memorable moments of her pageantry.
As Talicska works to secure linguistic human rights for all people, Miss Michigan said she has a special place in her heart for both children and adults, who are faced with communication difficulties that are the result of developmental disabilities; language, neurological or voice disorders; head injuries; or degenerative diseases.
Talicska graduated with her Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology and Elementary Education from Western Michigan University. She is a certified teacher and a CF-bound speech-language pathologist. She plans to one day obtain her doctorate, while maintaining her own clinical practice in speech-language pathology.
Miss Michigan is active in many organizations, including the Michigan Speech, Language &Hearing Association, and Special Olympics.
"As we strive to bring greater emphasis to academics, the pageant will also honor the contestant who presented the best platform during this year's competition," Galbreath said. In addition to appearing in their daytime business apparel and evening gown, contestants will present an approximate one-minute talk on a subject dear to their heart, society or to the world.
This year's 13 contestants will discuss education, self-image, grasping opportunities in one's life and defining gratitude. They will also speak on such subjects as family, the influence of their elders, friendship and peer pressure, while other platforms will address impaired driving and organ donation.
Max Sala, the former special programs director for Dowagiac Union Schools who is now retired, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies. Entertainment will feature Encore Dance Company, under the direction of artistic director Amy Rose; and dance performances by Miss Dowagiac Brittany Winters and her court.
The 2005 pageant will be staged for the last time within the auditorium at Central Middle School. The 2006 scholarship competition will then be moved to the new middle school, now under construction.
"This is a bittersweet moment for our pageant, our contestants and our audience," Galbreath said. "As is oftentimes the case, although a building may age and its doors close a final time, the community's sentiment grows as we recall the countless students, and in our case, the many pageant contestants, who have stepped through these doors and onto our stage."
Vying for the 2005 Miss Dowagiac title are: Valerie Johnson, Rose Middleton, Jennifer Humphreys, Abbie Jackson, Samantha Swartz, Emily Seurynck, Brittney Reist, Jacqueline Renfroe, Courtney Dufour, Rachel Rappelli, Keera Morton, Elizabeth Fryman and Katie Wright.
Galbreath said staging will simulate the pageant's theme, "An Enchanted Journey," as it takes the 13 young women on an underwater adventure from the opening beach scene to an amazing underwater sea.
The new queen will be crowned by Miss Dowagiac 2004 Brittany Winters, the daughter of Tammy and Toby Brooks, and Tim Winters. The 2004 Court includes: Elizabeth Grady, first runner-up; Kristi Moore, second runner-up; Michele Pilot, Miss Congeniality; and finalists Emily Westendorp and Kara Russom.
Tickets, priced at $12 for main-floor seating and $10 for the balcony, go on sale to the public Saturday, Jan. 15, at 8 a.m. at Patrick Hamilton School, located at 614 Spruce Street, Dowagiac.
Following the initial sale of tickets that Saturday, any remaining tickets will go back on sale when the Chamber of Commerce office opens Monday, Jan. 17, at 8:30 a.m.