On the steps of the Gibson Inn Saturday evening, Apalachicola’s Corie Cates was crowned the new Miss Florida Seafood.

The 16-year-old senior at Port St Joe High School, and daughter of Mike and Carla Cates, was chosen from a field of four contestants, who earlier in the day participated in an alternative to the traditional pageant.

Because the festival did not have the minimum of five girls taking part, it decided not to go with the Saturday evening affair at the high school, when Pam Nobles would work to choreograph an evening of dancing, singing, glitter and grins.

Cates, who was sponsored by Cates Electric., was tops in the interview portion of the afternoon contest before three judges. She also won the portion that measured how well each of the girls performed in the filming of a hypothetical television commercial for the seafood festival, set for Nov. 4-5.

Shawn Yao, an laboratory analysts with the Tallahassee Police Department, and a longtime member of the festival’s judging panel, was joined by Kelsey Peck, news anchor at WMBB Channel 13, and Megan Gannon, a field reporter at WMBB.

Named runner-up was Holly Chambers, 17, a senior at Franklin County High School, and daughter of Michelle and Andy Chambers. Apalachicola. She was sponsored by Chambers Home Repair.

Faith Sapp, 16, a junior at Franklin County High School, and daughter of Cassie Sapp, of Apalachicola, won the style appearance portion of the contest. She was sponsored by Rob Cabezas with Coastal Realty.

Voted by her peers as Miss Congeniality was Emily Gay, 17, a senior at Port St Joe High School, and daughter of Danny and Crystal Gay, of Apalachicola. She was sponsored by Centennial Bank.

“The seafood festival is great for everybody. We get to show off our little piece of paradise,” said Cates, after posing for pictures with the other contestants on the front steps of the Gibson.

“My favorite memory was every year seeing the parade go by,” she said.

Cates praised the other girls who had stepped forward to ensure the festival would have a queen this year.

“It’s a huge thing to put yourself out there,” she said. “It may be scary for some but it’s a whole lot of fun.

“I really enjoyed it, everyone was so nice. All the girls worked so hard,” she said.

Cates wore a crème colored pant suit during the afternoon judging at the Apalachicola Community Center. Following a meal with their families at the Gibson Inn, the girls changed into evening gowns for the crowning, which was announced by festival board member Tress Dameron. Last year’s queen, Trinity Hardy, shared remarks about what a great experience being Miss Florida Seafood had been for her.

Festival President John Solomon said the festival plans to incorporate the filming of the commercial as p[art of the interview Process. “The judges thought it was a great addition to the interview,” he said. “It really let them know how these young ladies would act in front of a camera.”

Solomon said contestants appeared before the judges, individually, during the afternoon at the community center in Battery Park,  filming their commercial and then sitting down for the interview.

“We were very pleased,” said Solomon. “They all did very, very well and we would have been proud to have any one of them as our queen.

“We want to continue on with the pageant tradition,” he said. “We did find a suitable replacement, for when we don’t have the five girls it takes to put on a Miss Florida Seafood pageant.”

The 53rd annual Florida Seafood Festival will feature country music star, Rodney Atkins, as its headline entertainment on Saturday. Nov. 5.