|Contestants in Campbellsville University’s Valentine Pageant include from left: Front row – Emily Hatley of Somerset, Ky.; Alexa Moore of Clarksville, Tenn.; Haley Roehl of Houston, Texas; Marissa Rehmet of Independence, Ky.; and Rachel Smith of Louisville, Ky. Back row – Shelby Mattingly of Versailles, Ky.; Jessica Tinsley of Marion, Ky.; Meredith Eastham of Hopkinsville, Ky.; Ellie McKinley of Campbellsville; and Danielle Salyers of Frankfort, Ky. (Campbellsville University Photo by Joshua Williams)|
By Ellie McKinley, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Ten young women will compete for the title of the 72nd annual Campbellsville University Valentine Queen Friday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at the Ransdell Chapel, 401 N. Hoskins Ave., Campbellsville.
With “The Great Gatsby” as the theme, the contestants are: Meredith Eastham from Hopkinsville, Ky., representing the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA); Emily Hatley from Somerset, Ky. representing Baptist Campus Ministry; Shelby Mattingly from Versailles, Ky. representing the swim team,
Ellie McKinley from Campbellsville, Ky. representing the Department of Mass Communication; Alexa Moore from Clarksville, Tenn. representing Hispanic Organization of Latin Americans (HOLA); Marissa Rehmet from Independence, Ky. as senior representative;
Haley Roehl from Houston, Texas, representing the Sociology Club; Danielle Salyers from Frankfort, Ky. representing the Social Workers in Touch Can Help (SWITCH) club; Rachel Smith from Louisville, Ky. representing Kentucky Association of Nursing Students (KANS); and Jessica Tinsley from Marion, Ky. is representing Village Phase I.
Throughout Campbellsville University’s history, the Valentine Pageant has been the longest held event on campus. Since the first pageant was held in 1942, there has not been a year that CU has failed to put on this popular event. The Valentine Pageant has given CU the opportunity to be recognized at a state level by sending winners to compete in the Mountain Laurel Festival.
Each year, clubs and organizations nominate a female representative who meets qualifications to compete for the title. Qualifications include having a minimum 2.5 GPA, have to be a sophomore or above, cannot be married and cannot have held a queen title at CU in the past.
The nominees will compete for the title by participating through different aspects of the pageant. These areas include interview, a dance routine, talent and an evening gown portion.
Hatley said, “I am excited to compete and to get to know the other girls. I am also excited to represent the BCM.”
Eastham is eager to participate in her first pageant. She said, “I’m really excited about the pageant! I was nervous at first, but I’m excited to put myself out there and meet new people. I’m just looking forward to having a great time with a group of great girls! It’s all about having fun!”
Selected among other themes, the Student Government Association (sponsors of the pageant) decided to select “The Great Gatsby” as their theme. Kaity Skaggs, vice president of SGA, is in charge of this year’s pageant.
According to Skaggs, SGA selected the theme of “The Great Gatsby” because it is a classic and has become popular since the 2013 movie was released.
SGA hopes that the theme and number of young women participating will encourage a large audience. Skaggs said, “With ‘The Great Gatsby’ theme, hopefully the popularity of the movie/book will aid in drawing a crowd.”
According to Skaggs, the pageant gives great opportunities for people to connect such as the contestants and the people putting the event together. Skaggs said, “Being a former pageant contestant, it is great to share my pageant experiences with the girls. I can understand their concerns and encourage them to have fun. Also, I really like hearing the girls’ stories and how they have developed their talents and how they apply those to their lives.”
The Mountain Laurel Festival is held in Pineville in Bell County, Ky., which is known for its southern hospitality. According to its website, it has been the longest running festival that has taken place in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and its sponsors work the entire year to prepare for the contestants.
An interesting feature about the festival is that contestants do not compete in a “staged manor.” For the pageant, contestants attend events such as teas and socials and mingle among “unannounced judges.”
Audrey Wunderlich, a senior at CU from Frankfort, Ky., represented CU at the festival two years ago after being crowned Valentine queen.
Wunderlich said, “Going to the Kentucky Mountain Laurel Festival was a once in a lifetime event that I will always cherish. I really felt like a queen, and Pineville, Ky. is the best at showing southern hospitality. I met some amazing ladies and escorts from all over Kentucky, and the Mountain Laurel Festival is a tradition I will always try to keep!”
Wunderlich is helping with this year’s pageant as vice president of public relations for the SGA. Logan Wolfe, a former past present of SGA, is also helping.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,600 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.