Miss Asheville, Teen Contestants Set For Feb. 24 - TribPapers

Miss Asheville, Teen Contestants Set For Feb. 24

Lily Yudenfriend, of Mills River, will tap dance for her teen talent segment. Here, she rehearses with Pat’s School of Dance for the Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas show. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Asheville – The 100th ever Miss Asheville will be chosen from among six women at a combined pageant on Saturday, Feb. 24, 5-8 p.m., in Erwin High School’s auditorium.

The event was planned for Jan. 20, but delayed by a month. It was postponed the day before, due to forecasted frigid, snowy weather. Now, it will be the last qualifier for the Miss North Carolina pageant on June 20-25 in High Point. Admission is $30; $36.22 total with fees.

The three separate main local crowns are Miss Asheville, Miss Blue Ridge Valley (BRV), and Miss Carolina Foothills (CFH). Five BRV and CFH contestants were grouped together for the phases. They were eligible for either of those two crowns.

Contestants are judged for content and poise in their private interviews. Preliminary segments are also for talent, a quick fitness routine, and evening wear fashion which is when each contestant is asked one on-stage question for further revelation and evaluation. There are cash awards for overall winners, for talent and evening gown victors, and for community service and congeniality. There are people’s choice trophies, and a spirit award for teen contestants.

The Miss Asheville/Blue Ridge Valley/Carolina Foothills Organization’s John Vance and Jeff Jones are pageant directors. Co-hosts are Farrell Beam and Brianne Schlott Lehman, Miss Asheville 2015. Beam’s hand-crafted checkerboard-patterned cutting board will be auctioned off at the event. Silent auctions are for gift baskets.


Miss Asheville contestants (“delegates”) and their competitive talents are: Bailey Beam (vocal), 26, of Lincolnton; Molly Dorgan (her life story), 21, of Waynesville; Sophia Kellstorm (vocal), 24, of Asheville; Aireal McElreath (vocal), 18, of Candler; and Sanii Thomas (monologue), 20, of Arden. Thomas will recite poet Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman.”

The first Miss Asheville was Rose Hildebrand, in 1923. She reportedly beat out more than 200 competitors, who submitted an application and a photo. She competed in the Bathing Beauty Review, which evolved into the Miss America pageant.

The 2024 BRV and CFH contestants and their talents are Tisha Abdul (dance), 19, of Concord; Megan-lee Deal (dance), 23, of Elm City; Andersen Raines (monologue), 24, of Midland; and Parker Sterling (clogging), 18, of Randleman. The age eligibility is 17-24 for all three main crowns.

Keen Teens

Ten teen contestants vie for three crowns. Teen contestants must be ages 13-16. Pageant applications reopened until Feb. 1. Two new entrants, both from Oak Ridge, N.C., are Marin Beesley (her story) and Jenna Clements (vocal). They join Emilee Bradley (dance), 16, of Lenoir; Isabella DiFiore (vocal), 14, of Statesville; Piper Erskine (vocal), 16, of Morganton; Kara Justice, 13, of Boone; Peyton Rice, 13, of Aberdeen; Victoria Robinson (her story), 16, of Winston-Salem; Anaiya Stewart (dance), 15, of Asheville; and Lily Yudenfriend, 15, of Mills River.

Stewart, a T.C. Roberson student, won the limbo contest at her dance studio for the past seven years. She wrote on her application that “a social challenge confronting my generation is the difficulty in communicating effectively with others. I believe many in my generation experience fear, hesitation or anxiety when speaking to others. There is also an issue with using tone of voice.”

Stewart eyes a community initiative to provide underprivileged youth with “learning and healing through movement, focusing on building confidence and promoting a positive self-image.”

Yudenfriend, a West Henderson freshman and cheerleader, tap danced to the song “Spanish Rose” from the musical Bye Bye Birdie. She has danced for 12 years at Pat’s School of Dance, including twice each in the Flat Rock Theatre’s Christmas show and in the Sugar Bowl halftime show and once on a Carnival Cruise. She cheers on West’s state-champion junior varsity squad.

“Mental health and physical health go hand in hand. I enjoy being active — especially through dancing. When I’m dancing, I am not only contributing to my physical well-being but also my mental well-being.” She said, “I encourage everyone to find a physical exercise routine that they enjoy doing.”

Yudenfriend plans to major in forensic psychology in college, and minor in dance.

Her platform cause is “helping provide financial assistance to women diagnosed with breast cancer and gynecological cancer. I will be working in collaboration with the Hope Chest, a community organization. I will be donating chemo care bags, and organizing fundraising to help these women receive the financial assistance needed to help relieve the economic hardships they may face due to the cost of treatment.”

She noted, “My mom has the BRCA 1 gene. Giving me a 50/50 chance of being a carrier of that gene. Having that gene puts me at a higher risk of developing breast cancer and/or gynecological cancer. Going to my mom’s (oncologist follow-up sessions in Florida) has made me think how hard it must be for women who struggle — between the costs of treatments, and their daily expenses of life.”

To buy pageant tickets, check: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/miss-ashevilleblue-ridge-valleycarolina-foothills-2024-competition-tickets-792900084497.