Pudding swamp winners announced, girls crowned

by | March 10, 2018 11:02 am

Last Updated: March 9, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Carmen Hanna was the winner of the Miss Puddin Swamp Festival Pageant.

On Mar. 3, babies and young women competed for teddy bears, crowns and titles in the Miss Pudding Swamp Festival Pageant in the East Clarendon Middle-High School gymnasium.

The pageant, directed by Sharlene McLendon and Michelle Feagin, is one of the main portions of the Puddin Swamp Festival in Turbeville, S.C. Although the festival is typically held in April, the pageant competition takes place several weeks before so the winners of the pageant can make an official appearance at the festival.

Aside from acting as a small fundraiser for the festival, the Miss Puddin Swamp Festival Pageant was also involved with another organization this year, March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote health in mothers and babies through research.

Eli Cox, the youngest of nine children, acts as a spokesperson for the organization, and he and his family draw from his own experiences with Down syndrome. His sister, a frequent pageant competitor, helped organize a fundraiser for the organization to take place at the pageant. Several volunteers from Carolina Academy sold refreshments at the pageant to raise money for the organization, and throughout the evening, they raised approximately $300 for March of Dimes.
The Miss Puddin Swamp Festival Pageant, which has been a part of the festival’s activities for 19 years, was separated into two separate competitions. The first competition began at 5:00 p.m. with the younger girls’ division.

Within the first half of the competition, the girls’ ages ranged from three months to six years old. Within this section of the pageant, the four divisions were Baby Miss, Tiny Miss, Precious Miss and Mini Miss Puddin Swamp Festival. The youngest contestants were carried onstage by a parent or sponsor, and the older contestants walked onstage while one of the pageant directors shared information about them.

After each girl in this category of the competition had her brief time onstage, the judges deliberated and gave out several awards for best hair, best dressed, most photogenic, most beautiful, best smile and the overall division winner.
In the Baby Miss category, Harper Jean Cutter won the overall competition award and was crowned Baby Miss Puddin Swamp Festival, and Brently Jordan took home the title of Tiny Miss Puddin Swamp Festival along with a few other preliminary awards. Lauren Davis was crowned Precious Miss, and Annalise Lambert closed the younger girls’ competition with the best smile award and the title of Mini Miss Puddin Swamp Festival.

After an intermission, the second half of the competition began. Aside from the same preliminary awards, there were four division titles up for grabs: Petite Miss, Junior Miss, Teen Miss and Miss Puddin Swamp Festival.

Savannah Balcom won most beautiful in her division along with the Petite Miss Puddin Swamp title, and Kate Wilson received the Junior Miss title with various preliminary titles as well.

The final two titles, Teen Miss and Miss Puddin Swamp Festival, were taken by Jordyn Cox and Carmen Hanna.

Cox, an Andrews native, decided to enter the pageant only a few hours before the competition began, and despite her nerves, the decision paid off.

“I was planning to come to the pageant to watch my younger cousin compete,” Cox said. “I had an old prom dress in the backseat of my car, so I kind of just decided to enter right then. I’m so happy that I did, and I can’t wait to represent the community at the Puddin Swamp Festival.”

Hanna, a frequent pageant competitor, said that she was excited to represent the community as well and was looking forward to acting as a role model for young girls in Clarendon county.

“I wanted to do the Puddin Swamp pageant because I wanted to help represent the town and be with my pageant family,” Hanna said. “I also look forward to being a positive influence on the younger queens and future queens of the Puddin Swamp Festival.”

McLendon said she hopes that the pageant was a positive experience for all of the competitors and that each girl walked away from the competition with heightened self-confidence.

“I’ve seen many young girls – one of my own children included – that are very shy and benefit from competing in pageants,” McLendon said. “We really just want this to be an opportunity for all of these girls to gain more confidence in themselves and have fun while learning valuable skills.”

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