LITTLE CURRENT— It was a tough night for the judges of the Miss Manitoulin 2015 pageant last Thursday at the Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre with six beautiful, talented girls from across Manitoulin competing for the coveted crown. In the end 19-year-old Brittany Manitowabi was named this year’s pageant winner.

Miss Manitowabi doing her first walk as Miss Manitoulin 2015
Miss Manitowabi doing her first walk as Miss Manitoulin 2015

“I was really nervous throughout the day,” revealed Ms. Manitowabi following the pageant. “I was confident going into the pageant because I have experience (she represented Wikwemikong at this year’s Miss North Ontario pageant in Sudbury), but after meeting all the girls and getting to know them, they each had something special about them.”

“I was really surprised and excited when my name was called,” said Ms. Manitowabi of being crowned Miss Manitoulin 2015. “The whole pageant was a lot of fun. I was worried it would be hectic but it went really smoothly. Bonding with the girls throughout the day and getting to know everyone was my favourite part of the whole experience.”

“On the morning of the pageant all the girls arrived at the hotel, many having not met before,” explained Miss Manitoulin committee member Robin Burridge. “We had orientation with the girls and a run through before the ladies participated in a workshop on confidence and runway walking with Miss Manitoulin 2014 Katie Harper. It was so rewarding throughout the day to see the girls open up and make new friends. They quickly got to know each other and were sharing laughs and planning on going out for lunch together by noon.”

The afternoon brought more fun as the girls headed to Hair and Nails 2000 in Little Current to have their hair styled for the pageant by Phreddie Shore and Michelle Caul and back to the hotel for makeup from volunteer Amanda Little.

It was then on to the one-on-one interviews with judges Kristin Luoma, Destinee Kaboni and Ruth Ann Bastert that were worth 40 percent of the contestants’ overall marks.

Following dinner, photographer Rebecca of Rebecca Wright Photography whisked the ladies away for individual headshots and group photos.

Miss Manitoulin contestants smile big for the camera during rehearsals
Miss Manitoulin contestants smile big for the camera during rehearsals

It was a full house with standing room only as Kelly Timmermans introduced this year’s six contestants: Brittany Manitowabi of Wikwemikong, April Torkopoulos of Gore Bay, Sarah Bayer of M’Chigeeng, Delaney Madore of Gore Bay, Megan Misner of Gore Bay and Kieran Harper-Hogge of Little Current.

Next up was the fashion show featuring Island fashions from Boarderline in Little Current, Dreamer’s Cove in Little Current, the Outpost General Store in Little Current, My Ol’ Blues in Gore Bay’s Tweeny Project ‘2 Blue Girlz,’ Cindy’s Fashions in Mindemoya, Turners of Little Current and The Kuku Hut in Little Current, Kagawong and Tobermory.

This year the contestants had a choice of either performing a talent or presenting a speech on Manitoulin Island.

Megan sang ‘Dancing in the Sky,’ Brittany sang an original song entitled ‘Field of Dreams’ while playing guitar and Kieran sang Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing,’ while Sarah, April and Delaney all gave speeches on Manitoulin.

The final component of the pageant was an evening gown presentation. Each contestant’s gown was as unique as the girl wearing it.

After a brief intermission the girls were called back onto the stage and the finalists were named. The contestants chose Sarah for the Miss Congeniality Award, with many of them noting afterwards how friendly and encouraging she had been throughout the day. The Haweater Pride Award, given to the contestant who demonstrated the most passion, knowledge and pride of living on Manitoulin Island, was awarded to Megan. Both the bouquets for Haweater Pride and Miss Congeniality were donated by Hawberry Florists in Little Current.

Sarah was named the second runner up, while April received the first runner up.

Miss Manitoulin 2014 Katie Harper presented Miss Manitoulin 2015 Brittany Manitowabi with her crown and sash.

Miss Manitoulin 2014, Katie Harper crowns Miss Manitoulin 2015, Brittany Manitowabi
Miss Manitoulin 2014, Katie Harper crowns Miss Manitoulin 2015, Brittany Manitowabi

Brittany went on throughout the weekend to not only help at various Haweater Weekend events, but was also invited to participate in the 55th Wikwemikong Cultural Festival.

“I was so honored to be asked to walk with the powwow royalty in the Grand Entry at the powwow on Saturday,” shared Brittany. “They were so encouraging and proud of me. It was very special. I also attended Crystal Shawanda’s Homecoming and sang as well as participated in the Bruno Henry fashion show wearing my sash and crown.”

Brittany said she has already been asked to speak at a youth conference at the end of August in Wikwemikong and sing at Manitoulin Country Fest.

“I love country music and this will be my first year attending (as part of her Miss Manitoulin Prize package she received two weekend passes, donated by 100.7 The Island),” said Brittany.

Brittany will be heading back to Sudbury this fall where she is heading into her second year at Laurentian University for social work.

She is looking forward to the next year as Miss Manitoulin and hopes that event organizers reach out if they would like her to attend their event.

“If anyone is interested in inviting Miss Manitoulin to attend their event this summer or throughout the year (Brittany’s school schedule permitting), they can contact myself at 705-348-2169 or and the Miss Manitoulin committee can coordinate with Brittany,” said Ms. Burridge.

The Miss Manitoulin contestants strike a pose in front of the press wall
The Miss Manitoulin contestants strike a pose in front of the press wall

“We are so happy to have been able to once again present the Miss Manitoulin pageant as part of the phenomenal Haweater Weekend lineup organized by the Little Current Lions Club,” concluded Ms. Burridge. “All of our pageant volunteers, the Lions Club helpers and amazing Island business sponsors help make this event possible each year, especially our three main sponsors the Little Current Lions Club, Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre and The Manitoulin Expositor. We are so grateful to all the support and the support of the community members and visitors that come up to cheer on our amazing contestants.”