Cranbrook marked its 50th Sam Steele Sweetheart pageant in style on Friday, June 19, at the Key City Theatre.
More than 140 of 400-plus Sweetheart candidates who went through the program over the years returned to Cranbrook for Sam Steele Days, celebrating “50 Years of Heart,” the theme of this year’s festival.
Friday night’s pageant, hosted by Christy Pick and Jason Wheeldon, opened with a video montage featuring pictures of all the candidates over the years and words of reflection from many of the participants. Common threads in the montage were the positive effect going through the program had, and expressions of gratitude for Karin Penner, longtime co-ordinator of the program.
Pictured. left to right: Kelsey Ackert, Daneri Ensign, Caylee Lazar, Katie Grady, Sarah Ferguson. Ackert and Ferguson are 2015/16 Sam Steele Sweetheart and Princess respectively.
Wheeldon and Pick introduced the selection panel: Jane Kennelly Coates, Jo Sommerfeld, Paula Kutzner, auditor Rob Norum and Judge Chair Robyn Graham.
Wheeldon noted that by Friday evening, 60 per cent of each candidates mark had already been decided, based on a 15-minute private interview with the selection panel, each candidate’s knowledge of the community, and an afternoon tea to see how everyone interacts with each other.
The five Sweetheart candidates were introduced, and spoke a few words in recognition of the sponsor group: Daneri Ensign (Sunrise Rotary), Sarah Ferguson (Cranbrook Society for Community Living), Caylee Lazar (Cristoforo Colombo Lodge), Kelsey Ackert (Lions Club of Cranbrook) and Katie Grady (Kin Club of Cranbrook).
The speech and talent segment followed. Sarah Ferguson spoke on stereotypes — in particular those attributed to redheads. Her talent was a modern dance performance. Daneri Ensign speech about her cousins with autism, and the effect and lessons thereof. Ensign’s performance was also a dance number. Kelsey Ackert’s speech was “It’s a Kelsey Thing,” about how clumsiness was a part of her life. Her talent selection was a clowning performance. Caylee Lazar’s speech, “Odd Man Out,” was about the tribulations of growing up in a family with five siblings. She performed an original song “Old Habits Die Hard.” Katie Grady paid tribute to her grandfather Roy Barnett in her speech, and spoke about her career as ski racer and coach for the talent section.
Pictured at left: Kathy Simon presents the Toastmaster Public Speaking Award to Kelsey Ackert. At right: Devon Kennedy presents the talent award to Caylee Lazar.
After each candidate modelled her Sam Steele gown, Jason Wheeldon asked each the same impromptu question: “This year we celebrate the 50th year of the Sam Steele Sweetheart tradition. Tell us about one of your favourite traditions.”
After intermission, the visiting royalty, in town for Sam Steele Days, was introduced. 2014/15 Princess and Sweetheart Kendall Bostok and and Devon Kennedy gave a farewell speech, and then awards were presented. Kelsey Ackert was presented with People’s Choice Award (by Christy Pick), Toastmaster Public Speaking Award (by Kathy Simon) and Community Awareness Award (Christy Pick). Outgoing Sam Steele Princess presented Caylee Lazar with the Talent Award.
Pictured: Outgoing Princess and Sweetheart Kendall Bostock (left) and Devon Kennedy.
Sarah Ferguson was named Princess of Sam Steele and received the crown from outgoing Princess Kendall Bostock. Kelsey Ackert was named Sam Steele Sweetheart, receiving the crown from Devon Kennedy. The two youth ambassadors will represent Cranbrook over the year ahead.