Six elegant contestants, each a student at Franklin County High School, wound across the stage like a mighty river at the annual Miss Florida Seafood pageant Saturday night.
The winner, though, was a tiny Brooke.
Lighting up the FCHS auditorium stage with a glowing smile, 17-year-old senior Brooke Martina was selected queen over the 54th annual festival, with Sallie Rose Paul, her classmate, chosen as runner-up.
“I was very happy, very excited,” said Martina, daughter of Lance and Paula Martina, of Apalachicola. “ I think it was a great experience. Even if I didn’t win, I really enjoyed it regardless.
“We’ve been friends for years,” she said. “It was a great group of people to be with.”
Martina topped the business attire and question portion of the judging, as well as the interview segment that preceded the pageant, privately with the three judges. It was there that she shared why it was she aspires to become a cardiac nurse, and why her role model is her nanny Jeanie McLauren.
Her grandmother recently underwent successful open heart surgery, just as Martina had at the tender of age of 8, when she too went under the knife to repair her heart.
Festival officials were pleased at the enthusiastic participation of the six young local ladies, a contrast to last year when after a dinner at the Gibson Inn, judges selected the queen from a field of four, without the excitement of a staged pageant.
In addition, former Miss Florida Seafood Trinity Hardy, and local TV personality Royce Rolstad emceed the evening smoothly, with sparkling enthusiasm.
Festival board members Tress Dameron and Christina Collins oversaw the pageant, with assistance from former Miss Florida Seafood Sara Ward. Last year’s queen, Corie Cates, was unable to attend, due to a previous commitment as a new student at Florida State University.
Paul, daughter of James Paul and Mary Margaret Stefanko, of Apalachicola, won for poise and appearance, and was runner-up for interview, outfit of choice and question. For her talent, she read an original monologue, dressed as a nurse, about the experience of care for an ailing relative.
Hannah Westbrook, daughter of Kim Brown, of Bristol, was runner-up in the category of poise and appearance. For her talent she did an interpretive dance number.
Sara Gibbs, daughter of Angela Montgomery, of Apalachicola, was tops in talent, singing “Almost Is Never Enough.” Katilyn Denney, whose guardians are Whitney Vause and Derek Henry, of Apalachicola, was second in talent, performing a modern dance routine to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
The only junior in the pageant, Drew Robinson, granddaughter of Alice Fox, of St. George Island., was selected by her peers as Miss Congeniality. Robinson sang “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” for her talent.
Martina, a cheerleader for five years and now captain of the squad, said she will suggest to the festival board that they select her older brother, Brett, who works both in the commercial and recreational fishing industry, as King Retsyo. “He spends every day on the water,” she said.
“I feel like the seafood festival is a great way for the county to come together,” she said. “I think the seafood here is better here than anywhere. When people ask where is the best place to get seafood, I tell the here is the place to go. Franklin County.
“To be able to represent our seafood, that is quite an honor in itself,” she said.