Dock of the Bay
Vol. 9, No.37
September 13-19, 2001
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Queen for a Fair

Fair queen contenders in line for the crown: Jillian Locklear, Stacie Smentkowski, Lisa Leary, Diana Sarich, Danielle Werner, Gina Ciarnierello, Megan King, Sheridan Owings, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Jaclyn Rindos. photo by Rachel Presa

If you were a color, what color would you be and why?

Don’t think about this one too much. Take a moment to formulate an answer, then just look out at the crowd, and speak with confidence and poise. Be brief, but creative, and if you have it in you, be a little witty. Try not to be nervous — but if you are, you get points for hiding it well.

If you’ve made it this far, you might be the next Anne Arundel County fair queen. You and four sister finalists won out in the preliminary judging. Now the slate is clean, and your title rests on this final, random question. Your competition (who have probably become your friends this week) share the stage with you. One of you will wear a crown tonight.
Certainly, you are in illustrious company:

A Green Belt in Tae Kwon Do; a vocalist for a Christian rock band; a Hope Teachers Scholarship winner; a Civil War re-enactor; a singer-dancer at Six Flags America; the only youth board member of Anne Arundel Habitat for Humanity; a four-sport athlete who held four jobs this summer; more than a few members of oft-moving military families, who have lived everywhere from Iceland to Hawaii; a few long-time Girl Scouts; two Broadway hopefuls; honor roll students by the handful.

All 10 are young, lovely, successful and talented.

But only one can be queen.

Of the Anne Arundel County Fair, that is. Turns out there are a plethora of chances for a regular girl to become royalty: There are tobacco princesses and cow queens. There are farm queens and homecoming queens. There is even a dairy queen.

But if your aspiration is to be queen of the Anne Arundel Fair, you must live here. You must be between the ages of 16 and 21. Moms and wives need not apply. Bring your report card to show that you have a B average or better.

You do not have to be an ardent fairgoer, however. Oddly, this will be the first fair for more than one contestant.

But most have been coming for years.

“I’ve always come to the fair, ever since I was really little,” said Sheridan Owings, 17, of Annapolis. “My favorite part was the animals: the bunnies, and chickens and horses.”

To get here this year, the girls responded to the call for future queens by e-mail, phone or mail. Many joined the race after they heard that the entry deadline had been extended to allow more contestants. Two returned after enjoying the contest in years past, and more than a few said that mom sparked the idea of running for the title.

On Wednesday night, one of them will win a crown, but first, all the girls will sit through interviews, write essays, model in an evening-wear contest and speak candidly in front of a crowd.
Everybody will take home a t-shirt and special gift, but the winner will walk off with a $500 scholarship, free meals and products at local businesses. And, of course, the crown.

On Wednesday night, presumably, she will float home, sleep with her crown on and dream of her kingdom of hay rides and tractor pulls, face painting and popcorn.

The next day, she will wake as a queen, and her royal responsibilities will commence.

This year’s contestants are eager to rise to the challenges of the title.

“If I am crowned fair queen, my first endeavor will be to master a good hog call,” promises Jillian Locklear, 17, of Annapolis. “Once I have achieved that skill, I want to look beyond the fair and the pigs and begin to reach out to the people of Anne Arundel County.”

Other girls said they looked forward to reigning over pie-eating contests, hog races, animal shows and arts and crafts demonstrations.

But all understand that the title of Queen means more than just a week of fun at the fair.
“The queen is part of everything that goes on at the fairgrounds all year, like the Highland Games and Halloween Happenings,” explained Samantha Chaney, 18 of Odenton. With her mother, Bonnie Chaney-Morris of Harwood, Chaney took over this year’s contest at the 11th hour, after an earlier organizer stepped down.

“The girls are encouraged to get involved in the community in positive ways,” added Chaney-Morris.

Chaney and Chaney-Morris speak from experience. The only mother-daughter pair ever to hold the title, these two wore their crowns exactly 30 years apart, Chaney in 1999, Chaney-Morris in 1969.

Some things have changed since then. The fairgrounds themselves have moved from Sandy Point State Park, where Chaney-Morris was crowned, to their current location in Crownsville.

Mostly though, things have stayed the same. This year’s contest has almost the same structure and scoring system as the one Chaney-Morris won in ‘69.

And, Chaney-Morris says, the reasons for entering are the same.

“You never know what opportunities might come your way,” she said.

Running for fair queen in 1969 led Chaney-Morris into a job, when a DJ heard her interview with judges and suggested that she had a great voice for radio. Soon after, she could be heard on station WNAV as a DJ and “police newswoman.”

Money, prizes, prestige and exposure are only part of the draw for aspiring queens. Returning contestants have come back this year for a very simple reason.

“I had so much fun when I did it in 1999,” said Megan King, 19, of Davidsonville. “I don’t care if I win; I just wanted to be here.” King was second runner-up when she competed two years ago.

“This pageant was a really fun experience last year,” said 2000 first runner-up Stacie Smentkowski, 17, of Millersville. “I had to come back and do it again.”

So, on the fair’s opening night, the 10 finalists may become colors or soups (as in, if you were a bowl of soup which would it be) or world savers. Judges — including a retired schoolteacher, a Miss Maryland pageant organizer, and yours truly, a new Goucher graduate and Bay Weekly reporter — will consider the girls’ on- and off-stage personality, poise and presentation. They will look for vitality and confidence, community involvement and personal accomplishments. The new queen will look beautiful in her crown, but she will look good on paper too.

“The way we look at it,” says Chaney-Morris, “the queen should be pretty on the outside and pretty on the inside.”

— Rachel Presa

At Navy Football, Tradition Scores
photos by M.L. Faunce

To the tune of “Anchors Aweigh,” a brigade of midshipmen approached the Navy-Marine Memorial Stadium in Annapolis under a brilliant September sky to open their football season against Georgia Tech.

Rain fell early on their parade in a shower of wrapped sweets — bite size Tootsie Rolls, butterscotch and watermelon hard candy, taffy and soft caramel bulls eyes — tossed from the sidelines.

“It’s a tradition,” said Dara Weigand of Davidsonville, who’s been tossing sweets to mids for 10 years. Daughter Alexa, 11, Tootsie Roll bag in hand, agreed. The St. Mary’s student says she’s been coming “forever,” too, though her favorite thing about the game is “petting the goat,” the Academy’s mascot that usually hangs out on the hill near the score board.

Weigand explained about the rules about the candy: “They can reach in the air, but they can’t stoop to pick any up.” The smiling Mids streaming by passed on the bounty on to those in inside positions. Navy Football “is a family tradition,” said Weigand. Husband Tom parks cars at the stadium for Parole Rotary, and Tom’s Dad, Ray, brings the stuffed ham from Southern Maryland for the tailgate party.

Tradition and tailgate parties abound at Navy games, but barbecue reigns, roasting on charcoal grills, its aroma wafting through corporate tents and class reunions. Navy Football fans come early to eat and party hearty. With kids in tow, many wear pins and hats with their graduating-class year.

Candy in hand or pocket, into the stadium came the sea of white caps, like a fast-moving tide, a fluid formation of young men and women blanketing the field of play. Above the field of play, you notice the names: Chateau Thierry. Coral Sea. Santa Cruz Islands. The names that line Memorial Stadium are not just destinations. Belleau Wood. Java Sea. Wake. Midway, Guadal Canal. Pearl Harbor. They are a legacy of battles fought and lives lost in the service of our country.

Just when you thought you had your goosebumps in check, four fighter jets thunder overhead out of nowhere. And with a bolt and a jolt the game began.
In the stands, Navy fans rule, but Georgia Tech boosters have the most opportunity to cheer about.

In the parking lot, Laura Abraham and Sarah Lathan of Severna Park are tossing a football. Asked the score, both shout, “We’re getting crushed.”

Georgia Tech rolled over Navy 70–6. Still, when the midshipmen filed out of Memorial Stadium, eyes straight ahead, no one stooped. The battle was fought, and though not won, tradition prevailed.

M.L. Faunce

Scratch the Itch for 45s & LPs
Alan Lee of Roadhouse Oldies.
photo by Melissa Pavolka

To some avid listeners, nothing brings peace like the scratch, scratch, scratch of a well-loved vinyl record. Pull out the large black disk, dust it off and place it on the roundtable. Set the needle down gently and wait. There is quiet, and then, We’d like to know a little bit about you for our files. We’d like to help you learn to help yourself, Simon and Garfunkel sing. You listen and remember.
DJs choose vinyl to play at clubs. But DJs account for only a portion of vinyl sales. Other buyers consider records a bit of nostalgia; a few more buy them because of price. Whatever the reason, vinyl accounts for mere 0.5 percent of all recorded music sold in 1999, the latest year for which numbers are available.
In Bay Country, record stores are as rare as records themselves. In this age of CDs and cassettes, vinyl is often found in a disorderly dust-filled bin at the back of used bookstores. But part of the fun of buying records is searching out the hidden gems.
Alan Lee has been selling music since 1975 at Roadhouse Oldies, a little brick-front building on Ritchie Highway in Baltimore. Times have changed.
“It was a lot simpler when we opened in ‘75,” said Lee. “There weren’t as many formats. Now people have more choices and there’s a lot more music available.” Lee has expanded his inventory to meet his customers’ demands. Now he offers CDs, cassettes, LPs (both singles and full albums) and 45s.
Some of his vinyl-buyers say they’re shopping for a bargain.
“Let’s say you hear a song on the radio that you really like and you want to buy it,” said Lee. “Well, you can come in here and spend $3 for the 45. But if you’re lucky enough to find it on CD, you’ll probably spend $14, $15 or $16. Assuming you have a record player, what would you rather do?”
Joe Wyckoff drives a dump truck. But his listening tastes were shaped when he worked at a flea market for a boss who paid him in records. This hot summer day at Roadhouse Oldies, Wyckoff was buying a 45 and a CD box set.
“All I listen to is oldies,” he said. “I go down to the basement and listen to the records.” His four-year-old daughter has adapted her dad’s listening tastes: Her favorite song is, “Love Potion #9.”
At Déjà vu Books in Bowie, owner Shelley Tidd sells records for old times sake. “I like records. I grew up with them,” said Tidd. She owns CDs, but she prefers vinyl. And that’s why she sells records. “There’s just something, you know, close to your heart with an album.”
Whether that something is sound quality, Tidd isn’t sure. “I have heard a lot of people like the soft sound of records,” she reported. But vinyl is fragile, and wear affects sound.
“Records are easily mishandled,” Déjà vu’s owner said. “I would say there’s very little difference in a record in good condition’s sound quality and a CD.”
Tidd’s customers range from “high school kids that are getting into records, to people just replacing a scratched record in their collection, to the collector.’”
LP sales dropped 14 percent from 1998 to 1999, according to the Record Industry Association of America. Vinyl singles sales dropped 2.5 percent during the same period. Even with these daunting figures, Lee and Tidd both say they have a steady flow of business — though neither could say how many albums they sell in one month.
Still, Lee’s not worried about competition from bigger chain stores that sell mostly CDs. He has a small but dedicated core of customers that want vinyl. “A lot of our customers have jukeboxes [that play 45s] at home. It’s a nostalgia thing,” Lee said.
Aside from businesses like Roadhouse Oldies and Déjà Vu Books are music stores that cater almost exclusively to club DJs. Most of their customers are in their late teens or early 20s, according to Chris Wallish, store manager of the Severna Park Record and Tape Traders.
These businesses want to provide a broad range of materials for their customers, so they include a few records in their inventory. Tower Records and Record and Tape Traders sell new vinyl, mostly singles. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they can special order it.
According to Carrie Michelson, the vinyl and singles buyer for Tower Records, most of the vinyl they stock is singles, “songs you might hear when you go out.” They sell about 75 to 100 records a month, both singles and full albums, according to Scott Phelps, the Tower Records general manager. If you’re a DJ looking for a new title, you might be able to find it at these stores.
Where can you go if you can’t find what you’re looking for? There is a monthly record/CD show at the Arbutus Fire Hall (5200 Southwestern Blvd.). The next show is September 16 from 10am to 4pm: 410/455-0418.

- Melissa Pavolka

Way Downstream …

In Miami, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has decided not to erect a billboard urging sympathy for sharks in the aftermath of recent deadly shark attacks. The billboard was to have read: “Would you give your right arm to know why sharks attack? Could it be revenge? Go vegetarian — PETA” …

Our Creature Feature comes from Colorado, where the bear never did get to enjoy an amusement park. The story began in suburban Denver with retiree Art Stephens sitting in a chair on his lawn at 4am smoking a cigarette. He heard a commotion in the grape vines, and when he investigated, an angry black bear emerged “It didn’t look very pretty — not at seven feet tall. He was mad I bothered him,” Stephens told the Denver Post.

Six hours later, police found the bear napping under a roller coaster at the park a half-mile away. A drug-filled dart ended any hopes the bear might have harbored for taking a ride — but he did get a lift back to the mountains.

Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly