The Star-Herald

Memorial pageant focuses on kindness

CARIBOU, Maine — On Saturday, April 27, more than 30 contestants from age 2 to 25-plus competed in the Miss Northeast Maine Pageant at the Caribou Performing Arts Center.  

Pageant director Ashley Caron Estey hosts the event annually in memory of Abigail (Abby) Ladner, who died tragically as a result of injuries from a car accident in October 2013. Ladner was the reigning Miss Northern Maine at the time of her death.  

The pageant celebrates Ladner’s spirit of caring and kindness, Caron said. Contestants bring in donations for Abby’s Angel Bags, a community service project started by Ladner’s family.  The project provides small bags of essential personal items to area hospitals and transitional housing facilities. This year contestants brought in more than eight large storage totes full of items for the bags.

Caron also believes bullying is a huge issue for parents and adults. “Bullies deserve no power,” she said. “Every contestant has a fair chance to become a Northeast queen and to dedicate a whole year to promote the anti-bullying platform.”

Contestants performed an opening act, appeared in an outfit of choice for the modeling portion of the pageant and participated in a formal wear segment. The optional talent part of the show featured a variety of performances.

Prior to awards and crowning of the new queens, Ladner’s mother led several visiting queens in a candlelight vigil, which concluded with a moment of silence in memory of Ladner.

The following 2019 queens were crowned:  

Abby’s Memorial Award: Leah Parent.

Mini Miss Northeast Maine: RaeLynn Fisher.

Tiny Miss Northeast Maine: Fiona Harris.

Miss Northeast Maine Jr. Princess: Mackenzie Pictou.

Miss Northern Maine Princess: Kadence Cormier.

Miss Northeast Maine Pre-teen: Rhianna Desjardins.

Miss Northeast Maine Junior Teen: Riley Prince.

Miss Northeast Maine Teen: Taylor Hedrich.

Miss Northeast Maine: Kimberly Cook.

Ms. Northeast Maine: Megan Cormier.

Miss Northeast Maine Grand Hospitality: Kimberly Cook.

Miss Northeast Maine Hospitality: Ashton Embelton.

Caron said she wants every contestant to feel comfortable and confident, and to learn something about themselves.

“You don’t have to be perfect to be a queen. The best queen is a girl who has a story to tell and who wants to inspire and empower through her story,” she said.

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