By WARREN DILLAWAY - firstname.lastname@example.org
After 21 years Valerie Ensell Gabor’s reign as Ashtabula County Covered Bridge Queen has come to an end.
“I think after two decades it’s long overdue,” Ensell said before crowning new queen Lisa Kalas, a junior at A-Tech from Jefferson.
She said she was excited to come back to crown the new queen.
“I love the Covered Bridge Festival because I love this time of year,” Ensell said. She said sights and smells of fall take her back to her time as queen.
The festival stopped crowning a queen after the 1991 competition, but festival organizers decided it was time to renew the custom.
“We needed an ambassador for our festival ... a queen is a way to represent us at festivals statewide,” said ACCBF Director Cory Jones. He said the committee is seeking ways to make the festival more interesting to people.
Gabor thanked festival organizers for her time as queen and told the contestants that the pageant is more than a beauty contest. She said pageants also are about civic duty and giving back to the community.
Kalas said she felt she would represent the county well and judges agreed.
“I’m so excited to represent Ashtabula County as our Covered Bridge Queen,” Kalas said.
Gabrielle Frasure, a junior at Edgewood High School, was named first attendant and Isabelle Wilms, a freshman at Geneva High School, was awarded second attendant status.
The other three candidates were Samantha Allega, Jenna Harryman and Tori Moore.
Kalas also was named Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants.
Michelle Redmond, the 1987 queen, attended the pageant and Geneva’s Image performed twice during breaks in the program.