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Four friends vie for derby crown
Four young ladies vying for Lamb Derby Princess are no strangers to large audiences.
After a lifetime of sports, dance recitals or band concerts, the Willows Intermediate School best friends say they are looking forward to a new challenge.
"It's not what I'm use to doing," said Juhi Wadhwa, during Monday's rehearsal for next month's pageant. "I'm more into shopping, dancing, playing volleyball and texting, but I think it's going to be a fun experience."
Wadhwa, 13, will be joined on stage by Emily McDonald, 12, Amy Crawford, 13, and Emily Beatty, 12.
All four girls are in the eighth grade, and decided to enter the contest together.
"We're all going to vote for each other for Miss Congeniality," joked McDonald. "Then it will be up to someone else to break the tie."
The Lamb Derby introduced the princess competition four years ago to provide middle school youth an opportunity to participate in the pageantry that has long been a part of Lamb Derby festivities.
Lamb Derby's royal court also consists of a queen and mini miss.
Crawford, the daughter of longtime Lamb Derby organizer Tess and Dewayne Crawford, is the only one of the four princess contestants who participated in the mini miss pageant as a kindergartner.
"I remember it was a large group," said Crawford, who was only five years old at the time. "I also remember the wave. We had to cup our hands and wave as we walked across the stage."
With a laugh, Crawford said she was glad the princess contestants had a little more latitude in presenting themselves on stage.
"We don't have to do the wave," she said.
Beatty, the daughter of Rick and Roberta Beatty, grew up in Willows and sees the pageant as a way to inspire others to participate in community events.
"It's an opportunity to be a good role model for the younger girls," Beatty said.
Pageant coordinator Hillary Goss said the princess pageant strives to help young ladies gain confidence, learn to speak in public and become responsible adults.
"Participation is a big part of their overall points," said Goss, who hopes what the girls gain from the experience includes the desire to see the Lamb Derby tradition continue.
It has been a tough few years for Lamb Derby with only a handful of volunteers, Goss said, forcing the group to drop some of its associated projects, including the commemorative year book and T-shirt sales.
Goss, whose mother has been an organizer for many years, grew up with the Lamb Derby and said volunteering is the only way to assure the festivities are around for future generations.
"Just as with the queen contestants, I hope the girls will someday join the committee and help keep Lamb Derby going," she said.
Although participation in activities and parades are part of their overall score, the princess contestants will be judged on their on-stage presentation, which includes an individual talent and answers to questions.
For her talent, Wadhwa, the daughter of Roger and Priti Wadhwa, plans to incorporate American dance with the varied style of dances of India, as a tribute to her heritage.
Beatty plans to dance as well, but with an evolutionary succession of styles that include jazz and hip hop.
Crawford, a member of the Cardinal Band, will play the flute, although she is also versed on the clarinet and trumpet.
McDonald, a member of the Willows National Rifle Association, will give a shooting demonstration.
McDonald is the daughter of Jason and Jamie McDonald.
Goss said the pageant will be entertaining, and will include a group dance, which the girls will perform with 2011 Lamb Derby Princess McKenzie Wahlborg.
Lamb Derby week will kick off May 7 with Walmart's penny carnival and the Lost Lamb contest.
The mini miss and princess pageant will be held May 9 in Memorial Hall.
The queen contest, which Goss also coordinates, will be held May 10.
The annual parade, lamb barbecue and park activities will be held May 12.