Nearly every little girl dreams of becoming a princess and River Days makes girls dreams come true. Saturday, there were many princesses riding around Portsmouth in some of the most beautifully created floats for all those little girls to view in awe.
Some of those lovely princesses were the Princess and the Pea, Princess Jasmine, Wendy from Peter Pan, Little Red Riding Hood, the Princess and the Frog and many others, all thanks to the River Days’ queen contestants.
As if these princesses weren’t enough, on Saturday evening, these twelve alluring young ladies were decked out in their most exquisite hand picked gowns, enough to fit every little girl’s wonderment.
Each of these elegant young ladies were there to represent their home schools in the 2017 River Days’ Queen pageant.
Following an introduction performance, the individual fitness and then an evening gown walk on the platform for each girl, it was time to choose this year’s Queen and her court.
First of all, the judges chose their top five: Portsmouth, New Boston, Notre Dame, West, and Valley.
Then the time came, to introduce this year’s queen and her court.
Jade Ratliff, from West High School was selected as 2nd runner-up. She is the daughter of Paige Smith and Chris Ratliff.
“I’m just so blessed to be able to have this opportunity. It felt so amazing knowing that my community was there to support me and they were cheering me on.It’s the best feeling in the world.”
When chosen to be in the top five, she said she felt, she was prepared for this. She told herself, “I’ve been working this whole summer, just for this moment.” She said she felt very confident.
Ratliff’s Platform for this year, was ‘Positively Pink’, raising awareness for breast cancer awareness in Scioto County Ohio.
She looks forward to traveling next year for River Days and she also looks forward to promoting her platform and promoting Miss River Days festival and making an even stronger friendship with Kennedy and Katie,“because honestly, they are my sisters.”
This comment brings up what had been said by the pageant moms, that the girls who run for Miss River Days, seem to get close, when they spend so much time together preparing and working with their platforms and the pageant.
Ratliff has four siblings and she said, “my little sister, Layla, is four years old, so she’s always loved princesses, just like all other little girls, and now she has a real live queen in her house. So, she thinks it is awesome!
My brothers are Luke, Bo, and Levi, and we are a big football family, so we’ve always had attention on football, but now the attention was on me, and they loved it. They loved watching me on stage. We went from being on the football field on Saturday nights to being at the pageant on Saturday night.”
Ratliff’s plans for her future is she plans on attending Marshall University and becoming a history teacher. She said it was because of all of my teachers had an impact on her and she wants to do that for other kids in the future.
Katie Fannin from Portsmouth was then selected as 1st runner-up.
“I was so thrilled, I didn’t think at first, that I was going to get anything, so going in making top five was really exciting for me. I was so excited, because I felt I performed really well that night, but there were some things I felt that some people did a little better than me.
I am overall thrilled, that I got 1st runner-up. It’s an amazing experience and I’m super excited to go around to other festivals and share how amazing Portsmouth Ohio is.
Walking out on the stage, I was very nervous, because we had practiced on the Vern Riffe stage and I had no idea what it would be like, when it was filled up. Going out there, I was so filled with adrenaline that I had no idea what to think at the moment, but after I got out there, it was so much fun going out there and seeing your school supporting you.”
Fannin’s platform was, “More Than Just a Number,” to bring awareness to negative body image and eating disorders. She said she used her event, titled, ‘Life is a Circus, Be Your Own Ring Master,’because sometimes she said than when you have an eating disorder, your life can be turned upside down. She showed people how crazy she could be, relating to a circus and tied that together.
“One of my friends showed us how she overcame her eating disorder and how healthy she is now, we had nurse show how to use nutrition, and we had Yoga class, because Yoga is a therapy for eating disorder. I really wanted to show how girls and boys who are recovering from eating disorders, can really get through by using Yoga.
Fannin says, “I am so excited and looking forward to traveling as 1st runner-up, I’m really close friends with 2nd runner-up Miss Portsmouth last year, and she told me all these great things about going out to these festivals and seeing how they run their pageants. I’m so looking forward to seeing how their pageants work and how different they are from ours and also, going and traveling and telling how amazing the Portsmouth River Days truly is.”
Fannin is the daughter of Shelly and Chad Fannin and she said they were so thrilled they were so excited for her to just get on the stage and represent her school. And then, she said that the day came and she got 1st runner-up, they were so thrilled and happy. She has siblings, Molly and Brady Fannin. Her sister’s 21, and she actually flew in from Chicago to come see her and her brother is 15 years old. It was the first River Days pageant that they had both ever been to, so it was really exciting for them to see her win 1st runner-up.
Fannin plans to attend Ohio University when she graduates and become a registered dietitian.
Finally, the big moment arrived, it was announced Miss River Days 2017, was Kennedy McGraw from Valley. “I feel absolutely fantastic! I’m still pinching myself, I woke up and it’s so surreal, it’s seriously a dream come true.”
McGraw is the daughter of Kurt and Kelly McGraw and she said she was looking forward to all the different festivals in Ohio and really spreading the greatness of the River Days Festival, and definitely learning about the other festivals. But, she also is looking forward to the other contestants and their platforms and everything they are going to be doing in the community to promote what they believe. She also looks forward to growing in the relationships with the people she’s already met so far. McGraw’s Platform is “Preventing Childhood Obesity.” When she was in 7th grade, she said she weighed over 200 pounds and felt very unconfident and unhappy in her own skin. So, she reached out to her dad and, “we motivated each other to wake up every morning at 5:00 to go to crossfit, before I would go to school. By the time spring was over, I had lost 50 pounds in the healthiest way possible.
My lifestyle completely changed and to this day, it’s just amazing all the things I’ve accomplished, just with my confidence and my lifestyle change. I inspire not only people in my community, but in my family. I wouldn’t be here today, if it hadnt been for this. It’s important to change your lifestyle, when you’re young to stay healthy and help your skin be nice, and help your energy level.
My energy level by eating the right nutrients, is insane, compared to if I wasn’t. I do this daily, I have a meal plan I follow every single day and on Friday after school, I go out and have a cheat meal with my mom. I really just give myself that gift, to say at the end of the week, ‘I won this, I won everyday this week’ and rewarding myself with that. It is very important to me to be very structured with my lifestyle”
McGraw’s brother is Dakota Smith and he plays football at Otterbein University and her sister is Claire Smith. McGraw sia that she is actually living in New Mexico studying a type of art where she is eight out of all the entire world to be accepted into the program.
Sadly, Claire couldn’t come, because she was in New Mexico and Dakota had a football game and he couldn’t come. “Their hearts were completely broken, as soon as I was crowned, my mom took a picture and sent it to my sister and her phone died, so she was like,‘oh my gosh, how could you just send me a picture and not explain this?’
She said her dad is the type of father that would be bawling, he was so excited and her mom was the same way, but just nervous for me and everything else. As they called the top five, and I got picked, I started crying, I was like, oh my gosh and then all four of my great friends were called, I was so happy of who was in the top five with all the connections that we made, it made it even better, and I started crying. I kept smiling, but I was crying it was so hard to keep it together.
I’ve always dreamt, it would be me, but I never thought the day would come. I always believed in myself, but the realization of it, it’s still not even there. I still have to pinch myself!”
McGraw plans to attend Shawnee State University when she graduates to carry on her family’s legacy and major in education.
After all the princess dust had settled, the River Days Pageant was over, and twelve totally exhausted young ladies finally went home to dream of all the wonderful things they had experienced as contestants for the River Days’ Queen.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext.1928