Over the years since the start of St. Kitts National Carnival, thousands of people have converged on “Carnival City” to see, what many people consider to be, the premiere event of carnival, the National Queen Show.
No other show, except the calypso final, has come dose In consistently attracting packed audience, not to forget the thousands more who “glue’ themselves to radios arid listen to the captivating descriptions of testants on stage This show strikes home, more than any other, to the heart of carnival in its annual selection of ambassador for St. Kltts and Nevis.
Over the 21 years of national carnival, no other winner of a carnival event has played such an important role in representing the country at regional and international shows than the winner of the National Carnival Queen Show. Quite clearly, national queens have played a significant role in country promotion over the years.
It has been a learning experience for all involved in the national queen show, and improvements and high expectations have involved over the 21-year journey. There is a common thread linking national queens, in that there is a strong feeling of contribution to their country through their promotional speeches, cultural presentations, media interviews, and one-on-one contact with people throughout the region.
Speaking with people of the Caribbean has be one of the most rewarding experiences. It has been an opportunity to share my heritage and to promote my country,” said Janetta Maloney, the reigning Miss Kitts-Nevis, and the reigning Miss Carnival. captured in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Janetta, who has place in every regional contest entered, believes strongly that it is vitally important that national queens get regional and international exposures not only as a means promoting the country. but also to gain experience that could be passed on to future contestants and winner
Janetta participated in the Miss OECS in Dominica, Miss Caravale in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Miss PJD-2 Pageant in St. Maarten, Miss Caribbean Queen Show in Antlgua, and the Miss Antilles in Saba. Her chaperon, Mrs Jacynth Martin, further explains that the opportunity was not lost in promoting St. Kitts and Nevis persons who were not aware of the charms of country. Janetta was an excellent ambassador. In adition to her speeches and performances numerous brochures on our Islands were distributed in each of the regional countries hosting queen pageants.’
With the experience gained throughout the years by both organizers and contestants, significant improvements were possible ‘Earlier recruitment and practice sessions for contestants have helped to lift the quality the show,” said Haley Cassius, our 1987 - ‘88 national queen, and first national to win the title of Miss Caravale, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
It is increasingly important for contestants to be more aware of current regional and international issues that affect our country. Personality is equally important,” said Haley, remarking on the need to continue improving the quality of the show. She added that queens should be utilized more through local television commercials and advertisements, and in events such as Tourism Week. “Even the first runner-up should have a significant role to play.”
Commenting on Haley’s reign and her conquest of the Miss Caravale title, Mrs. Gwen Nisbett, a former chairperson of the National Queen Show has this to say. ‘Haley was interviewed by the international press and was followed around by a number of renowned photographers. The former Miss Universe was quite impressed by her performance, and demanded much audience appeal with her talent performance. Her national dress was stunning and depicted many aspects of Kittitian heritage, and nobody has any doubt who won that show. Her performance helped to put St. Kitts on the map.”
Winning the National Carnival Queen Show is not only significant in its ambassadorial aspect, It also offers an opportunity for personal development “Winning the prestigious title of Miss St. Kitts-Nevis was a tremendous accomplishment, in that it provided the opportunity for meaningful growth, development and exposure as a young woman,” said Aurelie Buchanan-Lam, national queen 1977 - 78. Out of such experiences, Aurelie has involved herself in training and grooming young women to play a valuable role in the fashion and tourism industries. She also now serves as co-chairperson of the years Queen Show, along with Hazel Brookes, our first National Carnival Queen.
Flashing back to l97l, Hazel briefly tells what it was like. “There were nine contestants. All of us entered mainly for the fun of doing so. We were proud to take part. It was a fun thing”, explains Hazel, adding, There were no official training sessions, and the prizes were nothing like what they are today.” She remembers her prizes a trip, some Jewellery, several gallons of paint and a refrigerator.
Hazel also had the opportunity of representing her country overseas In the Miss Caribbean Queen Show in Antigua, and a non-competitive show in St. Croix’s Three Kings Festival. “It was an honour for me to represent my country,” Hazel remembers, “and there Is now more opportunity for today’s queens to play a significant ambassadorial role.”
It is without doubt that these queens echo many of the sentiments of other National Queens who have made their contribution In nation building. For this we must all be thankful, for without them and the many contestants who entered over the years, carnival would Just not be carnival. It has been with pride and elegance that our National Queens have represented our country. We are justly proud of them.