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PRINCESS KERLA AND COURT PUT ON A GOOD SHOW

June 29, 2001 – It took place 11 days after the originally scheduled date, but the St. John Festival Princess Show at the Winston Wells Ball Field on Thursday night was well worth the wait, most in the audience seemed to agree.
An exuberant crowd of 500 applauded, cheered, waved and chanted for their favorites among the three contestants vying for the 2001 princess crown.
Kerla Fessale, an 11-year-old student at Guy Benjamin School, proved to be the judges' favorite, winning Miss Congeniality, Most Photogenic, Best Sports Wear, Most Talented, Best Evening Wear and, finally, the title of 2001 Festival Princess. In her initial presentation, Kerla enthusiastically urged the audience to sit back and enjoy the show.
Competing with her were Shakwana Albert, a sixth grader at Prophecy Elementary School on St Thomas, and Alisha Powell, also a Prophecy student, who was named Miss Popularity.
Creativity was the order of the evening, and the focus on cultural heritage and personal empowerment made it much more than a beauty contest.
In the sports wear segment, Kerla presented what she called a tribute to the late race-car champion Dale Earnhardt, driving onto the stage in an electric cart and emerging dressed in a black racing suit with silver stripes. Shakwana appeared in a white fencing uniform, carrying a foil, while Alisha posed as a triathelete.
In the talent segment, Kerla portrayed a slave girl who toiled tirelessly while keeping her spirit strong. Wearing a white dress and turban, she danced to an African song which evolved into a dance of freedom as she shed her outer garb to reveal a leopard costume with headdress. Shakwana appeared as a native doll which came to life to celebrate Emancipation Day by dancing and playing steelpan. Alisha depicted a disenfranchised child who, separated from her parents, realized the importance of nurturing and preserving youth.
All three contestants wore evening wear fit for a fairytale. Kerla, a triplet, was accompanied by her two same-age brothers and modeled a white bouffant chiffon dress sparkling with more than 5,000 rhinestones. Shakwana was a vision in pale blue with accents of iridescent silver, and Alisha wore a fuchsia chiffon gown with sheer elbow-length gloves.
Between the segments, the Fusion Band and the 2001 V.I. Carnival junior calypso king and queen entertained the audience. The 2000 Festival prince and princess, siblings Imory and Lyia Tongue, took their final walk before the passing of the princess crown. There was no prince competition this year.
The princess competition was delayed due to illness of one of the contestants.
St. John Festival events continue through the Fourth of July. The Village, honoring Cheryl Boynes-Jackson, opens Friday. Tuesday will bring a Cultural Day in Cruz Bay Park and the first Mr. Emancipation competition at night in the ball park. The traditional parade is set to begin at 11a.m. Wednesday, with fireworks at 9 p.m. For the complete listing of events, see the Source St. John Festival schedule.

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