GREENVILLE — When Lauren Walsh was on stage at the Miss Danish Festival Scholarship Pageant, she said it didn’t feel like a competition.
In her very first pageant, Walsh, 17, looked very at ease Saturday night at the Greenville High School Performing Arts Center stage as she and three other young women competed for the title of Miss Danish Festival 2014.
“We are all friends at school, and have classes together, and it was very difficult to think that I was going against them,” said Walsh, who ended the night winning the title of Miss Danish Festival.
She also garnered the Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear award and the Lindsay McBride Spirit award, totaling $1,700 in scholarship funds.
The four contestants had five phases of competition: private interview, lifestyle and fitness, artistic expression in talent, presence and poise in evening wear and onstage question.
“I’m in shock,” said Walsh, the daughter of Mike and Tara Walsh of Greenville. “I really had no idea that I could win.”
Brianna Van Houten, 17, the daughter of Joel and Linda Van Houten, garnered the Interview Award, and the Julie Stephens Miss Community Service Award, and will serve as first runner-up.
Walsh modeled a turquoise bikini for the Lifestyle and Fitness phase, worth 15 percent of the score; and belted out Hilary Duff’s “Someone’s Watching Over Me” for Talent, valued at 35 percent.
For her onstage question, valued at five percent, Walsh was asked to explain how education is important.
“Education, in my opinion, is very important,” she answered. “Just learning about anything, whether it is math, science, or something else, there is so much we can learn.”
Gliding with poise on stage for the Evening Wear phase, Walsh, who is beginning her senior year at Greenville High School, chose a simple sleeveless lace overlay red gown.
“I’m looking forward to being at everything I can be next weekend,” she said. “I’m also excited to promote my platform of autism awareness throughout the year as I represent Greenville and the Danish Festival.
Saturday night’s show also included choosing a 2014 Danish Festival Prince and Princess. Out of a field of 13, Addison Kemp, 5, the daughter of Tricia and Phil Kemp, was chosen as Princess. Triumphing over a field of seven, Ethan DeKraker, the son of Matt and Courtney DeKraker, will serve as prince. Courtney (Billimier) Dekraker also served two terms as Miss Danish Festival.
A Saturday afternoon pageant chose younger royalty to help round out the court. Mollie Rodenhouse, the daughter of Jason and Melanie Rodenhouse, was named Young Miss Danish Festival with Alexa Neumann picked as First Runner-up. Olivia Youmans, the daughter of Tammy Youmans, earned the title of Jr. Miss Danish Festival with Amber Zimmerman serving as First Runner-up. Lyndsy Scholten earned the Young/Junior Miss community service award.