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Contestants come back for seconds, leave with firsts

BREMERTON — Two years ago, Kingston’s Canon Henness took the stage and was crowned Miss Kingston.

But the stunned 17-year-old admitted that the experience didn’t really prepare her for being named the 50th woman to wear the Miss Poulsbo crown.

In fact, when her name was called out of the five Miss Poulsbo contestants at the Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap Pageant Saturday night, Henness said she turned to the girl next to her and said, “Are you kidding?”

“I honestly thought it would be easier the second time around and less of a shock, but it’s not,” Henness commented amid a barrage of flash photography after the pageant. “I’m just in shock.”

For the new Miss Kitsap, apparently the second time was also the charm.

Amy Stadshaug of Bremerton, the only returner from last year’s Miss Kitsap contestants, came out on top in a talented bank of nine Kitsap County women.

“It was so much fun last year. It was just amazing,” Stadshaug said of the reasons that brought her back for another run at the title. “I learned so much last year and I know that helped me this year.”

Henness is the daughter of James and Lija Henness and Tim and Kathleen Wright. The North Kitsap High School senior said she hopes to study criminal justice and theatre at the college level. She has chosen “senior citizen appreciation” as her platform for her coming year as Miss Poulsbo.

Stadshaug is the daughter of Mark and Susan Stadshaug. She is a 2003 Olympic High School graduate and a University of Washington freshman. Her platform is “Habitat for Humanity” for her upcoming term as Miss Kitsap.

Kelsey Erickson of Poulsbo, daughter of Jon and Debbie Mathews, was named first runner up for the Miss Poulsbo title. Erickson, a former Viking Fest princess and current North Kitsap High School ASB president, will be attending Washington State University this fall.

“I was really excited and surprised,” she said of hearing her name called. “I feel honored to be first runner up to Miss Poulsbo and the scholarship money will help me a lot.”

Emerald Mansfield of Bremerton, daughter of Rodney and Marina Mansfield, was named first runner up for Miss Kitsap. The 2003 Olympic College graduate who hopes to study biology and naturopathy marked her first pageant experience Saturday and said she’d definitely consider participating again.

“It’s nothing like I ever expected,” she commented. “It was a lot of fun, a lot of hard work and a lot of frustration but it was worth it.”

Henness and Stadshaug will next compete in the Miss Washington Pageant, which is scheduled to take place July 3 in Tacoma. The finalist from Miss Washington advances to the Miss America contest.

The two titleholders also each received $5,000 scholarships, runners up received $1,000 a piece and all non-finalists were given $400. About $18,200 total in scholarship money was given out including the additional $200 scholarships in:

•Artistic Expression in Talent — Mansfield

•Community Achievement in Interview — Stadshaug

•Living the Platform — Erickson

•Ruby Watland Community Service Leadership — Erickson

•Most Improved — Miss Poulsbo contestant Melissa Smith of Suquamish

•Golden Crown Award — Miss Kitsap contestant Nicole Carey of Seabeck

•Future Potential — Miss Kitsap contestant Mallory Morrison of Bremerton

•Director’s Spotlight — Miss Kitsap contestant Elizabeth Montoya of Seattle

•Scholastic Achievement — Miss Kitsap contestant Kathryn Hightower of Bremerton

•Non-Finalist Talent — Morrison

•Non-Finalist Interview — Carey

•Miss Congeniality — Erickson

•People’s Choice Talent — Emerald Mansfield

Besides helping young women reach their future potential, this weekend’s event also took a moment to reflect on the past. A video montage and musical medleys celebrated the Miss Poulsbo crown’s 50th anniversary this year.

The Miss Kitsap Pageant, which started in 1959, was revived by the Miss Poulsbo Organization in 2003 after a 15-year hiatus.

All former Miss Poulsbos and Miss Kitsaps in attendance were asked to come on stage just before the winners were announced as the evening’s emcees sang “We Are Family.” Miss Poulsbo Organization director Michele Nilsen-Wasson said the moment, for her, encapsulated the spirit of the local pageants.

“That’s the way we approach everything here, that we are family,” she commented. “Everything that I’ve worked so hard for, I always think ‘What’s the magic moment that makes it all worthwhile?’ And that’s it.”

The family element of the Miss America-affiliated program was stressed over and over. Miss Poulsbo 2002 Kristen Eddings commented at one point that, “Once you’re Miss Poulsbo, you’re always part of the family” and the first Miss Poulsbo, Lolly Torey Keith said she felt the same way.

“It’s really exciting for me,” Keith commented of being part of the golden anniversary proceedings. “I’ve been part of the organization for quite a while and just sticking around town it’s been neat to see the changes in Poulsbo and in this program.”

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