Dec. 20, 2005 – Francillia Marie Benjamin, a 17-year-old St. Croix Educational School graduate, was named Miss St. Croix Festival Queen in a hotly contested pageant that included six other equally talented young ladies.
Benjamin said her "stage presence" as well as her "perseverance and hard work" pushed her to the top of the seven contestants.
On the same stage, 19-year-old Kevin Anthony Swanston bested fellow contestant Jose A. Navarro to capture the title of Mr. St. Croix.
The pair was crowned following a five-and-a-half-hour show at the Island Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday evening.
The show began on time at 5 p.m. with the arena already filled with eager spectators. As the show progressed the crowd swelled to capacity and every seat in the house was occupied. Even with the more than 300 extra seats placed on the lawn area by the Festival committee, several hundred people were forced to stand and watch the fast-paced event.
Benjamin, who was a crowd favorite from the start, also won Miss Congeniality and Best Cultural wear. MaCheire Mercado was named first runner up, and Zydmarie Sanes was second runner up. Mercado also won Miss Photogenic and Sanes won Miss Intellect. Amberky Lynch, a 16-year-old senior at the St. Joseph High School was named Miss Popularity. Also competing were Vanessa Kramer, Roanna Parris and Marjorie Pemberton.
The female contestants were judged on business attire, introduction speech, cultural wear, swimwear, talent, eveningwear and question and answer. The male contestants competed in the same categories except for the swimwear section and they were required to wear an evening tuxedo.
In the cultural wear section, Benjamin drew shouts of approval as she sashayed around the stage in a floor length dress with a multi-paneled hoop skirt featuring the native flowers of each country that once ruled St Croix. Red American Beauty roses were set at the edge of each panel, symbolizing the United States and a madras ruffled hem swept the floor as she modeled her outfit. The bodice of the dress and her hat was made in madras fabric.
Swanstons cultural wear featured a royal blue cape and a white top hat. He wore a jacket of madras fabric trimmed in gold braid with gold epaulettes on the shoulders over a matching royal blue vest. His white shirt was Danish inspired with a ruffled bib and ruffles at the wrist.
For his talent, Swanston, a member of Music in Motion Dance Academy, performed an interpretative ballet similar to a Cirque du Soleil.
Jose's talent was a representation of dances from all around the world including ballet, bachata, salsa, African, and Caribbean.
In addition to capturing the crown, Swanston was awarded Mr. Intellect and Mr. Photogenic.
After the show, Swanston said his "creativity and originality" gave him the "edge" over the competition. A week before the Mr. St. Croix Show, Navarro participated in the Junior Calypso contest and was named Junior Calypso King.
As the new Miss St. Croix, Benjamin receives a $3,000 University of the Virgin Islands scholarship, $2,500 in cash, a $500 wardrobe, a photo session, a Miss St. Croix gold pendent and other prizes.
Mr. St. Croix receives $700 in cash, a photo session, a Mr. St. Croix gold pendant, a watch and other prizes.
Check back frequently to the Source for all your 2005-2006 St. Croix Festival highlights. See the complete schedule here.
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