Antigua St John's - After a week of screening candidates from various zones in Antigua & Barbuda, the 2011 Independence Homecoming Queen (IHQ) finalists have been chosen.
They are Raynel Carroll (East Zone), Shanice Sebastian (West Zone), Nikki Laville (North Zone), Renee Laronde (South Zone), and Amlin Cephas (Barbuda).
The finalists were officially introduced to the public Tuesday on the Good Morning Antigua/Barbuda show.
Chairperson of IHQ Shane Marsh said the girls stood out from the time they entered the Multipurpose Cultural Center, where the auditions took place.
The show will feature five judged segments: Research, Swimwear, Cultural Talent, Cultural Wear, and Interview.
The research piece will replace the usual monologue segment. The chairman explained that having the girls speak about their respective zones is important, but it has always left the public wanting much more.
“This year, we have included the talent segment as a way to challenge the girls to showcase what the twin-island state has to offer and so whatever they do it has to be in keeping with something or someone Antiguan & Barbudan," he said.
"However, the public will still be informed about some aspect of the zone, but through a short research presentation.”
Of the five finalists’ ability to keep Antiguans & Barbudans on their toes on the final competition night, Marsh said, “We have five beautiful and talented young ladies with experience in dancing, singing, playing the pan, stilt walking and acting. What more could anyone ask for?”
Marsh thanked Minister of Culture Eleston Adams, the Independence Steering Committee, and the Queens Committee for the support given so far.
He also expressed appreciation to Bridgette Richardson stylist and national wear provider, June Charles makeup artist, Althea Teague jeweler and Alex Rhodes photographer who are all on board as official sponsors.
The committee will be using residents within the various zones to help design and make the swimwear and cultural dress pieces.
“This is important, as in order to keep the culture of Antigua & Barbuda alive, we have to expose those upcoming designers, dressmakers, trainers, etc to the public so it will be easy for them to transition into a more established role like the Calvin Southwells or Sharon Bartons," Marsh said.
He promised the general public a cultural extravaganza - “We want to bring every aspect of our cultural heritage to the forefront and so everyone can expect to see that throughout the competition."
Independence Homecoming Queen 2011 will take place on Friday, October 31 at the Dean William Lake Cultural Center starting at 8 pm under the theme, “Keeping Culture Alive”.
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