Cheryl Wilson crowned queen after lively show

Cheryl Wilson was named the 2010 Sportsman’s Holiday Queen Thursday in a program that brought back a taste of the old days with the revival of the Chips ‘n’ Splinters variety show.

Wilson, 17, who will be a senior in the fall at Sweet Home High School, was chosen from a five-princess court that also included Megan Sanderson, Kellie Pollock, Jazmine Morris and Kelika Kaniaupio.

Morris was named First Princess and Sanderson was Miss Congeniality.

“I’m pretty excited,” Wilson said following her crowning by last year’s First Princess Catrina Stengrim in the absence of 2009 Queen Amanda Russell, who has moved. “I can’t wait to get started.”

She said the princesses had done an informal tally the day before on their ticket sales, which is a major component of the criteria used to choose a queen. Ticket sales fund scholarships for the court and pay for its expenses.

Wilson said the other court members told her they thought she would be chosen, so “I wasn’t totally surprised. But I would have been happy if one of the other girls had won.”

The five princesses also were interviewed by a panel of judges and had to give a speech to the audience of approximately 250 people who braved the heat to attend the event at SHHS Auditorium, which was followed by an old-fashioned pie social. Attendees donated 118 pounds of food for Fair Share Gleaners.

Organizers interspersed the coronation activities with musical acts built around this year’s festival theme “Down on the Farm,”

along with some patter from emcees Brad and Amy Newport.

Jan Hufford-Wilson, Marvin Wilson, Kathy Wilson, Cheyenne Patton, Brittany Wilson and Debbie Olson put on a series of humorous skits in which Hufford-Wilson played a farm mother with daughters itching to get out and see the world.

The program was somewhat abbreviated by several no-shows among the performers, which created a few intervals in which Hufford-Wilson and her team ad-libbed while scores were tallied.

Wendy Smith, chaperone for the Frontier Sportsman’s Holiday Court, who put the show together with Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Andrew Culy, Patti Woods of the Business and Professional Women and Hufford-Wilson, said the show went well.

“We were very pleased, generally,” Smith said. “I think we learned a lot. Looking forward, I think we’d like to market the entertainment a little bit better. But to me, overall, the support from community was great. The response was wonderful.”

The show took place on a barnyard set designed by Lisa and Scott Weld and built by John Smith and Brooke Morgan.

Other performers were the Gypsy Circle Belly Dancers and singers Patton, Taylor Thorpe, Sheila Kent and Dave Samson.

Marvin Wilson performed a soulful, humorous rendition of “El Paso,” the western ballad made famous by Marty Robbins as Brittany Wilson played the part of the “Wicked Felina,” to the delight of the crowd.

Audience members clearly enjoyed the show, which lasted nearly two hours, despite the heat.

“Overall, I liked it because of people who were in the audience who were part of it in the past and who remembered it from years past,” said Garry Burks, who attended with his wife Cathy. “I enjoyed most of the planned entertainment and the skits.”

Judges were Michael Hall, Alex and Debbie Paul, Erin Regrutto and state Rep. Sherrie Sprenger.

In the queen competition, princesses were given a choice of two questions: Which club or organization had been the biggest influence on them and why, or what cause would they be most inclined to support and why.

Sanderson and Pollock both spoke in support of the Make a Wish Foundation, both citing cases of acquaintances who had been helped by that organization.

“Illnesses do not discriminate who they will strike,” Sanderson said, explaining the benefits of the organization’s services to families in need of mental and emotional relief. “It does not pick a time that is convenient.”

Pollock said she learned from watching two young children die that she “should always treat others with kindness and respect,” adding that the foundation does exactly that for ill children and their families.

Morris said she would support the American Cancer Society, telling of two family members who were stricken with cancer in the past few years, one an aunt who died of lung cancer.

“I’m tired of my family having to go through this over and over again,” she stated.

Kaniaupio said she was most influenced by the Community Chapel youth group, who “welcomed me with open arms” after she had attended a number of others in the area.

Wilson spoke of her experience in the Sweet Home High School Forestry Club, which she joined reluctantly as a freshman under pressure from a friend.

“I didn’t think it was for me,” she said. “My grandpa was a logger but I didn’t think his genes got passed on to me.”

She said she found out differently after joining and is now the most senior member of the club going into the fall.

“If it hadn’t been for forestry, I probably wouldn’t have the courage to get up here before an audience and speak,” she said.

The princesses also answered impromptu questions posed by the only three-generation queens Sweet Home has had: 1953 Frontier Days Queen Geraldine Guthary Gardner, 1978 Sportsman’s Holiday Queen Karolyn Gardner Crocker and 2006 Sportsman’s Holiday Queen Stefani Crocker.

Wendy Smith said organizers were “very pleased, generally” with how the event turned out.

“The only two negatives were the heat €“ we had no control over the fact that it was 97 degrees €“ and it was a little bit lengthy,” she said. “I think we learned a lot.”

She said getting more local performers involved will be critical.

“Part of it way back when was getting the various clubs to participate,” she said. “We know Sweet Home has some very talented people and getting the word out to them to be part of it next year is going to be vital to making it successful.”