Ashley does it again….Stidham named Miss Camellia 2002

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2002

On Saturday night, July 13, Olympic fever spread throughout Greenville’s Ritz Theatre as 16 of Alabama’s finest young women took the stage for the 4th Annual Miss Camellia program, the only open preliminary for the Miss Alabama/ Miss America scholarship program in the area.

The theme for the event was &uot;The Spirit of the Olympics&uot; and each of the contestants displayed a winning attitude as they marched in, waving a variety of international flags for the &uot;Parade of Nations&uot;.

Mistress of Ceremonies, Miss Alabama Scarlotte Deupree, lit the Olympic ‘flame’ center stage and reminded all present that &uot;our delegates have gathered with one medal in sight…as they vie for the title of Miss Camellia.&uot;

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Swimsuit, talent and evening gown competitions gave each of the competitors additional opportunities to impress the panel of five judges.

In-depth interviews with each of the 16 contestants were held at the Chamber of Commerce offices earlier in the day.

It seemed to be ‘dj vu all over again’ when the ‘gold medalist’ of the evening was finally announced: it was 20-year-old Ashley Stidham of Birmingham, Miss Camellia 2000, who once again was chosen to wear the crown.

Stidham, who received a $1,500 cash scholarship from the Miss Camellia program, will go on to represent the area in the Miss Alabama program next summer.

The petite, dark-eyed Stidham tied with fourth runner up Christin Kelly of Mobile as winner of the swimsuit competition.

Stidham, who is a strong advocate of alcohol awareness education, also took home the Community Service Award.

A very spirited and saucy contemporary ballet en pointe to &uot;Simply Irresistible&uot; from Broadway’s ‘Contact’ won the new Miss Camellia the applause of many during the talent competition.

Third runner-up to Miss Camellia was Jemison’s Rachel Pickett.

Second runner-up and preliminary talent winner was Decatur’s Jessica Wheeler, who sang &uot;In His Eyes&uot; from the musical &uot;Jekyll and Hyde.&uot;

First runner-up was Catherine Crosby of Brewton.

Miss Alabama Scarlotte Deupree proved a beautiful, capable and entertaining mistress of ceremonies.

As the outgoing Miss Camellia she joked about pulling ‘double duty’ for the evening and engaged in spirited banter with the audience when additional time was needed in tabulating the votes.

Deupree also provided musical entertainment with her powerful vocal performances of her Miss Alabama talent entry, &uot;Holding Out for a Hero&uot; and the inspirational &uot;This is the Moment.&uot;

At a reception following the evening’s program, a radiant Stidham declared herself &uot;thrilled&uot; to once again be wearing the Miss Camellia crown.

&uot;The board of directors [for Miss Camellia] is so wonderful and so supportive, I really look forward to working with them and having a great year,&uot; she enthused.

The Miss Camellia Scholarship Program was sponsored this year by LV Stabler Memorial Hospital and a dozen other local businesses and individuals.

A total of $2,500 in scholarships was given out at Saturday night’s program and more than 30 individuals donated their time, energy and talents to help make the event a success.

&uot;I thank everyone so much for all they have done for this program,&uot; noted Miss Camellia Director Wendy McDougal, who is now gearing up for Atlantic City and Deupree’s bid for Miss America in September.