Pageantry in St Lucia will be done a little differently this year. Rather than having two individual events, Ms Joan Johnson, President of Pageantry St Lucia, has collaborated with Ms Yasmine Walcott, to present to the public the Miss Universe and Miss World Pageant in one. The winner and first runner-up of the pageant will represent the country at the Miss Universe and Miss World pageants, respectively. In an interview with the STAR on Tuesday, Ms Johnson was asked if the organization had received any criticism for this move, she stated that the change was in fact well received. “People think it’s a wonderful idea,” she said. “It’s cost effective and at the end of the day we are going after the same sponsors.” Ms Johnson added that “it is not unusual for some pageant directors to belong to more than one franchise, so collaborations are not all that farfetched.” The local pageant is set to be held on October 20th at the Sandals Grande Resort. Over the years there has however been complaints that pageant organisers are cutting it a bit close when it comes to choosing a representative. The Miss Universe event will be held in December, leaving very little preparation time for the young lady selected to represent the country. It has been pointed out that top contenders like Venezuela and Mexico have chosen their candidates for Miss Universe a year in advance. These contestants train for months while St Lucia’s representatives have a little over a month to prepare. In response to these statements Ms Johnson stressed that countries like Venezuela and Mexico have “a lot of financial support” and “more overall support”, so they require less time to get sponsorship for their pageants. Countries like Mexico and Venezuela “have schools dedicated to pageantry,” whereas a smaller country like St Lucia has a very small pool of sponsors to draw from. Ms Johnson stressed that at times these sponsors are assisting with other festivals or events being held across the island. This year’s local pageant has been decentralized, with auditions held in both Castries and Vieux Fort. The young women are as diverse as the areas they come from and each of the ten beauties are said to have a lot of potential and drive. This event is sure to be one that the public will enjoy as beauty, intelligence and charisma are expected to be put on display. Anya Charles, Crista Alexander, Eldra Alcee, Gladis Noel, Neva Edward, Niser Clarke, Oneka McKoy, Tara Edward, Trudy Mathurin and Zena George are the pageant contestants competing for a chance to win the two coveted crowns of Miss St Lucia-Universe and Miss St Lucia-World. Keep an eye out for profiles on these ladies over the next few weeks in the STAR!