The tension was at a crescendo late Saturday night as Courtney Garrett and Savannah Lane faced each other, hands in hands, as the final two women standing in the 2014 Miss Virginia pageant.
When Garrett’s name was called out moments later, she dropped to her knees in tears as she became Miss Virginia 2014.
The photogentic blond, representing Miss State Fair of Virginia, had impressed the pageant goers and judges during the weeklong festivities, and when 2013 Miss Virginia Desiree Williams pinned the crown on Garrett, she made the traditional walk down the Roanoke Civic Center Performing Arts Theatre runway in a white floor-length evening gown to begin her year-long journey.
Garrett performed an operatic classsical vocal, “Parla Piu Piano” in her talent portion Saturday night that was the icing on the cake. The song was from “The Godfather.” She had already won the Preliminary Swimsuit Award on Friday night and was still carrying the plaque she received earlier for winning the Quality of Life Award.
26 contestants had been narrowed to eleven to begin the evening, with swimsuit-fitness, talent and evening wear performed during the 2-hour televised event. Those eleven were narrowed to the final five, followed by a series of questions by news reporters on current lifestyle and events issues.
Garrett, 21, is a graduate student at Liberty University pursuing a Masters Degree in Business Administration. She receives a $ 17,500 scholarship for winning the pageant.
As first runner-up, Lane, Miss Chesterfield, took home a $ 8,350 scholarship. Miss Apple Blossom Festival, Elizabeth Martin, was second runner-up, good for a $ 4,550. scholarship. Miss Roanoke Valley, Victoria Maiden, was third runner-up ( $2,850 scholarship) while Veronica Robertson, Miss Dominion, finished fourth runner-up and a $ 2,000 scholarship.. Robertson also won the People’s Choice Award, given to the contestant receiving the most internet votes.
Garrett’s platform, “Defying Disabilities” centered on understanding and accepting the challenges people with disabilities encounter in everyday life. She encourage people to become better educated and involved with the struggles the disabled have.
She noted in her Miss Virginia bio that her defining moment was surviving a fatal car accident that should have taken her life.
If Garrett’s face looks familiar, it may be because she was pictured with her brother on a Wheaties box for a 2014 Special Olympics World Games promotion.
Garrett will now compete in the Miss America pageant September 14th in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Also on Saturday night, Casey Shepard, Miss Apple Blossom Festival, won the Outstanding Teen competition, including a $ 2,000 cash award and 4-year scholarship to Hollins University. The Outstanding Pre-Teen went to Emily Kinsey, also from the Miss Apple Blossom Festival.
The Miss Virginia Organization makes available more than $ 300,000 annually in cash and in-kind scholarships to colleges and universities in local and state Miss Virginia scholarship competitions.
– Bill Turner