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07-25-06 Opera talent helps bring crown to St. Henry teen

By Betty Lawrence

  Erica Gelhaus' enthusiastic performance of the operatic aria, "Saper Vorreste" helped her win the title of Miss Lake Festival 2006 before a large crowd at the Celina Fieldhouse on Monday evening.

Newly crowned 2006 Miss Lake Festival Queen Erica Gelhaus is flanked by congratulatory queen pageant contestants at the conclusion of Monday night's event. The scholarship pageant is the traditional precursor of this weekend's Celina Lake Festival. See related photos on back page.<br></br>

  The 18-year-old from St. Henry also captured the Outstanding Talent award, Outstanding Fred Thees Interview award and the Jim Zellner Memorial Fund award.

  Music filled the air most of the evening as a large number of the 14 contestants sang before the panel of judges in the talent portion of the annual scholarship pageant.

  First runner-up was Kaela Gardner, 18, a graduate of Parkway High School, Rockford; second runner-up, Brigitte Hart, 18, a 2006 graduate of Coldwater High School and third runner-up, Heather Waterman, 19, a 2005 Celina High School graduate.

  In an unusual and surprising move, the young ladies, who already had walked across the stage and down the gangplank in their swimsuits, donned their suits again after intermission to replay that portion of the contest.  A computer glitch had failed to tally the judges' score, requiring the deja vu moment. The evening wear portion of the contest concluded the long evening of pageantry.  

  Gelhaus wore a turquoise two-piece swimsuit for the lifestyle and fitness division of the pageant and her long green gown gracefully swept across the stage in the evening wear portion and as she bowed to accept the queen's crown from the 2005 Miss Lake Festival


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