It was a perfect four-for-four for Franklin County High School junior Morgan Martin Saturday night, as she carried home the title of this year’s Miss Florida Seafood.
The 16-year-old daughter of Henry and Teresa Ann Martin, of Apalachicola, won each of the four categories: Interview, Talent, Poise and Appearance, and Casual Wear to win the prized tiara, especially significant since this year’s pageant is the 50th anniversary of the state’s oldest and largest maritime festival
She also was selected Miss Congeniality by the four other contestants. This earned her a $50 gift, courtesy of Karen Petteway Cumbie, the 1983 Miss Florida Seafood, which she donated in honor of this year’s golden anniversary.
Selected as runner-up was Franklin County High School senior Samantha Shiver, the 17-year-old daughter of Tony and Joann Shiver, of St. George Island. Shiver was named as runner-up in the interview portion of the competition.
Runner-up in the talent portion went to Franklin County High School senior Savannah Cook, 17, daughter of Duane and Amy Cook, of Eastpoint.
Runner-up in the poise and appearance portion was Franklin County High School junior Aaliyah West, the 15-year-old daughter of Melissa and Nancy West, of Apalachicola.
Runner-up in the casual wear portion was Franklin County High School senior Ashley Carroll, 17, daughter of Tracey and Link Carroll, of Eastpoint.
The pageant, which drew a modest audience at Franklin County High School, was emceed by Ginger Coulter, the finance director of the sheriff’s office, and the 2012 Miss Florida Seafood Christina Collins.
“Weeks of preparation and hard work have led up to this night’s event and we are so proud of each one of these girls,” said Coulter. “It takes a lot of courage to get up on this stage and perform as well as each of these young ladies do tonight.”
The five entrants opened the pageant with an appearance in casual wear, a portion of the competition that has replaced the physical fitness category.
The young women were then each introduced, with details about their hobbies, interests, ambitions and the person they most admire.
Cook wrote that her ambition in life is to pay service to society and reach out to help others in the profession of nursing. Later, in the portion in which Festival President John Solomon asked them each a question, Cook said visitors should attend the festival “to experience our character here and to experience some of the world’s finest seafood.”
Cook said she most admires her mother, who is her best friend in life because “she has a heart of gold, giving love to others that cannot be bought or sold. Her mother is always there to listen and help her through anything, and without her she doesn’t know where she would be.”
Sponsored by Coastal New and Used Furniture, Cook sang the “I was here,” the hit song made famous by Beyonce, in the talent portion of the completion.
Shiver wrote in her intro that her ambition is “to graduate college, set foot on all continents and start a career as a psychologist.” She told Solomon that her favorite memory of the festival came when she was 5 years old, and she strolled the festival in a cheerleading outfit, eating candy, and enjoying all the rides with her mother and father.
Shiver said she most admires her grandmother Veronica Armistead. “She was hardworking and in her 90s, managed several businesses daily. Despite her busy schedule, she would still make time to have tea parties, play card games and watch movies together. Her grandmother had a strong impact on her and taught her to be strong, always smile and though she is small, to stand like she was the tallest person in the room”
For her talent, Shiver delivered a humorous monologue entitled “No Talent.” She was sponsored by the Armistead Companies.
Carroll wrote that her ambition to help others and make them smile by becoming a nurse. She told Solomon that the festival was scheduled to be held regularly on the first weekend of November because it came about before the boom in year-round tourism in the county, and was intended to bring a large amount of visitors here during a slow time of the year.
Carroll said she most admires her mother in life. “Her strength is unbreakable during hard times and she is extremely determined to accomplish her goals. She admires her open mind, compassion and sense of understanding. She is always there to support her in anything she undertakes.”
Sponsored by Lynn’s Quality Oysters, Carroll in the talent portion sang "Heads Carolina, Tails California," a song made famous by Jo Dee Messina.
West wrote that her ambition is to be a traveling doctor, helping ones in need along her way. In her response to Solomon’s question, she said becoming queen would mean she “would be able to put my input on my family’s legacy, and be able to help a great number of people in the industry where we live.”
Sponsored by Apalachicola Commissioner Brenda Ash, West did a dramatic reading of Maya Angelou’s expressive poem “And Still I Rise” during the talent portion.
Martin said her ambition to become an actress and perform on Broadway and in movies, and to minor in business in college. She described to the audience, during the questions, that King Retsyo’s name is the word oyster spelled backwards, and that he is the son of Neptune, who protects natural resources as well as the wonderful seafood industry.
Sponsored by the Gulf Coast Workforce of Apalachicola, Martin did an expressive dance called “The prayer” for her talent.
As a break in the pageant, five former queens - Carline Medley (1976), Melissa Bloodworth (1977) Suzanne Hill (1979), Link McWhinnie (1989) and Donna Dasher (1991) – appeared on stage for a dance number. Also as an interlude, a handful of tiny dances from Pam Nobles Studios performed on stage. Nobles also choreographed the pageant contestants’ dance numbers, beginning with “Edge of Glory” that opened the evening.
The three-judge panel who decided on the winners included Heather Schimek, from Tallahassee, a mother of four who is the reigning Mrs. National Southern Miss Queen: Paige Ingram, an Alabama resident who has been judging and directing pageants for the past two years; and Caron Myers, who is the former Caron Spikes who grew up in Apalachicola.
Myers earned her degree from Florida State University, and has worked as a television reporter. After she and her husband, Danny, a nationally syndicated radio host, lost their daughter to childhood leukemia, Myers helped to start the National Bone Marrow Transplant Registry with Congressman C.W. Young, of St. Petersburg.
Myers’ father, Billy Spikes, the first chairman of the festival, was on hand to enjoy the festivities, and will serve as grand marshal of the Nov. 3 festival parade. That night will feature country music sensation Kellie Pickler as the headliner.
The evening featured the rollout of new 50th anniversary t-shirts, now on sale, as are DVDs of the pageant. In addition to Solomon, serving on the all-volunteer board are Vice President Tress Anderson, Secretary Andrea Register, Treasurer and Pageant Director Jennifer Brown, and board members Kevin Ward, Danny Gay, Ted Mosteller, Michael Shuler, Carl Whaley, R.J. Shelley, Danielle Layne and Pam Brownell.