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Miss Washington County/Miss Western Maryland to be crowned Saturday, Feb. 19

February 10, 2012|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE | crystal.schelle@herald-mail.com

In the more than 20 years Barbara Carson has been with the Miss Washington County/Miss Western Maryland Scholarship Pageant, she has seen her share of changes.

Most noticeably, the dwindling numbers of young women as contestants.

"There are so many things out there for young women to do and different ways to get scholarship money," said Carson, president of the organization. "They're choosing other avenues."

Yet scholarship money continues to be one of the biggest draws to participate in the scholarship pageant. College-minded women competing for the Miss titles have a chance to win a $2,000 scholarship.

"All the money is written directly to the college," Carson explains.

Ten women, from ages 17 to 24, will vie for two titles Saturday night at The Maryland Theatre during the annual Miss Washington County/Miss Western Maryland Scholarship Pageant.

Also during the evening, five teens — ages 13 to 17 — will compete for two titles: the Miss Washington County Outstanding Teen and Miss Western Maryland Outstanding Teen.

"It's very entertaining and interesting to see the accomplishments of our local girls," Carson said of the competition.

As a way to acknowledge the program entering its 66th year, several past titleholders have been asked to join the young women to celebrate the evening.

With the theme of "A Black Tie Affair," special guests will include Miss Hagerstown 1947 Loretta Hartman Morgan, who has also donated one of her oil paintings for the evening's silent auction. The auction will begin before the event.

Other guests include Miss Maryland 2011 Carlie Colella, Miss Western Maryland 2011 Hannah Mollerick, Miss Washington County Outstanding Teen 2011 Faith Mohamed and Miss Western Maryland Outstanding Teen 2011 Heather Mitchell. Emcees for the evening will be Pieter Bickford of WHAG-TV, as well as Mary King, who was Miss Western Maryland 2009 and Miss Washington County in 2010.

Contestants for all four titles will compete in five phases of competition — a private interview with the judges panel and onstage for talent, evening wear and onstage question. Miss contestants will compete in the physical fitness in swimsuit, while teen contestants will appear in sportswear.

First runner-up for both Miss titles will receive a $600 scholarship. Teen winners will receive a savings bond.

Beyond the glitz and glamour of the competition, Carson said the young ladies and teens learn so more than just competition.

"They learn life skills that will last them forever," she said.

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