New queen crowned

Published 10:24 am Friday, August 15, 2014

FRANKLIN—The runner up has been just announced. The emcee for the evening, last year’s runner up Carla Matthews, is about to go into the speech that would make one girl and her supporters very happy. With the anticipation building, one Franklin girl goes into an internal prayer.

Calli Joyner, 17, is being crowned by Alex Grizzard, last year’s Franklin-Southampton County Fair Queen. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Calli Joyner, 17, is being crowned by Alex Grizzard, last year’s Franklin-Southampton County Fair Queen. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

“I was thinking, ‘God, let the best person for this community be able to win,’” the 17-year-old contestant said. “Let the best role model for the community be able to go out and show their stuff and do what they need to do for this community.

“Then they said contestant number 2, and my heart was just racing. It felt like a dream, really.”

Calli Joyner, contestant No. 2, had never expected to win when she decided to enter the Franklin-Southampton County Fair Queen Pageant, which was her first pageant ever.

“Really, I just wanted to get up there and show the youth of our community that you can do this,” she said. “It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or what obstacles you may have faced in life — you can do whatever you set your mind to.”

Mikayla Womble, 17, is the runner up in this year’s Franklin-Southampton County Fair Queen Pageant. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Mikayla Womble, 17, is the runner up in this year’s Franklin-Southampton County Fair Queen Pageant. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Mikayla Womble’s name had been called seconds before Joyner’s, as the 17-year-old Courtland native had been the runner up.

“I was very surprised because I know it was a tough competition,” she said. “There were a lot of good girls up there, and I’m glad I got it.”

She had been in pageants before, and Womble said she’d think about competing in this one again once she is eligible. As far as why she entered this one, it was about pride for Southampton County.

“I thought it would be a great way to possibly represent my county,” Womble said. “And I knew it was definitely a great way to get to know other girls from the area.

“My favorite part was probably all the laughing and joking at practices. They are a fun group of girls.”

They danced a lot, Womble said.

“We would just break out into sudden dance moves when we were supposed to be doing serious things all the time,” she said. “I really liked doing the opening number because it was fun, and I just had a good time dancing around with them when we were actually supposed to be dancing.”

Womble said she was happy to see Joyner crowned.

“She was very good on stage, and I’m sure she did well in the interview,” she said. “She’ll do a great job representing the county.”

Joyner also said that getting to know the other girls was her favorite part.

“It was really awesome to spend time with them, they are all really sweet girls,” she said. “It was just easy making new friends. They were so accepting.”

As far as what she enjoyed the most about the night of the pageant, it wasn’t being crowned, it was seeing her family afterward, and then, being able to show the community who she is.

“I was so excited to see pretty much all of Southampton County out there, and being able to show them my personality, and who I am,” she said. “I have always been true to who I am, and I want to be a role model to the youth of the community. I want to show that they can be who they want to be in life.”

It was her brother who inspired her platform, which was “putting your best foot forward” and was about being a role model.

Her brother, Joseph, a marine, was deployed in Iraq for several months. While there, a vehicle he was in hit road bombs five times.

“We almost lost him,” Joyner said. “Despite his physical and mental injuries, he is putting his best foot forward. He has a job, a family, and he is just doing his best in life.

“He really inspired me. He always has.”

The upcoming year is going to be busy and fun for both Joyner and Womble. Womble is looking forward to spending more time with Joyner and all of the Little Miss winners as well throughout the year.

“I know a lot of them very well. I’m just excited,” she said. “I think it will be a very good time.”

After the year is up, and Womble is the one on the stage emceeing the fair pageant, she’ll be getting ready for college. She already knows where she wants to go, and she’s thinking something in the medical field for her major, right now that being physical therapy.

“I plan on attending Radford,” she said. “It is a small school and they are really personable — it reminds me of Southampton County.”

Joyner doesn’t have a college picked out yet, but she knows that one day she wants to go to law school. She’ll start out majoring in business, and she’s actually already got some experience there.

“I tell everyone that I own a business, and they look at me and are like, ‘What?’” she said with a laugh about Jessie’s Ceramics. “And I am like, ‘Yeah. It’s a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun and it teaches you a whole lot of new things.”

She co-owns the business with her grandmother, Jessie Turner of Hunterdale.

“Ever since I was really little, I have been so fascinated with the art of making ceramics,” she said. “My grandmother kept telling me, ‘When you are old enough, you can get in there and start some ceramics and painting.”

Finally, that promise came true one day, and they started the business out of her grandmother’s garage. They visit craft shows and have a Facebook page to sell hand-made ceramics, such as little Christmas trees.

This year is also going to be good for Joyner, she said. One of the things she will get to do is compete in the state’s fair, representing Franklin-Southampton County.

“I am very excited for that,” she said.

Thinking back to that moment when she was being crowned, she said it felt amazing.

“It feels so blissful to be fair queen after everything that we have prepared for and everything that has been going on,” she said, adding that had she not been crowned, she would have been just as happy. “It was really all about just getting out there, being confident with myself and saying, ‘Hey, this is what I want to do.’

“I just wanted to go out there and do my best.”