Borough girl's gumption brings back Miss Stanhope Pageant

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  • Catherine Barry, Miss Stanhope 2017 Photos courtesy of the Borough of Stanhope

  • From left, Thomas Romano, the emcee, Catherine Barry and Shelby Loftis, Miss Stanhope 2016 and the freason the pageant was revived.

By Laurie Gordon

— Shelby Loftis loves her hometown of Stanhope, but unfortunately, the borough stopped holding a Miss Stanhope pageant for some reason years ago. So, last year, Loftis attempted to enter the neighboring town of Byram's pageant, for the chance of making it to the Queen of the Fair competition which is held annually at the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. Initially, she was given the nod to enter, but then was disqualified for not being an official resident of Byram. Undaunted, Loftis approached the Stanhope Borough Council and asked if she could represent Stanhope at the 2016 New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show.

Council member Doreen Thistleton said, “It was too late to hold an official pageant, so at our council meeting leading into Fair time, Shelby came before the governing body and said the the Fair's pageant director needed the council's approval from us for her to represent Stanhope. We gladly said 'sure.'” Thistleton added, “We were very impressed that she took it upon herself and had the gumption to approach us, and she did quite well at the Fair's pageant while proudly representing Stanhope.”

Fast forward to this spring, and when the council met, Thistleton said, “So, this year we are going to have a Miss Stanhope contest, right?” The council unanimously said yes and put Thistelton in charge.

“I had a lot of help and we had some great judges,” Thistleton said. “One of the rules is that the judges cannot live in the borough of Stanhope so there's no bias as if they did they might know one of the girls from the community.”

Stanhope councilman and managing director of The Growing Stage, Thomas Romano, served as Master of Ceremonies, and the judges included Susan Ghilain, Dr. Heidi Weber and Terry Karns. Thistleton added, “We have no idea why the Miss Stanhope Pageant was terminated but there hasn't been one for about 17 years. We're so glad it's back.”

This year's pageant included several girls, and Thistleton said, “Not as many as we thought participated, but then again, it's something brand new and there were lots of girls watching whom I'm sure are interested, after seeing it this year, in being a part of the pageant next year.”

This year's Miss Stanhope was crowned on June 27 at Whistling Swan Inn, in Stanhope, and is Catherine Barry. “She has an amazing singing voice,” Thistleton said, “And all of the girls who were in the pageant were just lovely, poised and talented.”

Barry demonstrated poise, presence, and accomplishment as she spoke about her background and aspirations and answered several thought-provoking questions from the judges. She is a Lenape Valley Regional High School graduate, and is currently enrolled at Sussex County Community College where she plans to obtain a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and become an emergency room nurse. Barry has already has experience in the medical field as she volunteers as an EMT with the Stanhope-Netcong American Legion Ambulance Corps. She is a former Top Model First Runner Up Miss New Jersey Junior Teen SM and a past participant in the NJ State Teen Arts Festival.

Nineteen-year-old Barry will represent Stanhope at the New Jersey State Fair/Sussex County Farm and Horse Show Queen of the Fair Program on August 5, as well as several borough events.

“I think it's such a a plus for the borough to have reinstated this pageant,” Thistleton said. “We don't know why it was stopped, and everyone on the Council gave it their blessing to be reinstated. It truly gives the girls from our town the opportunity to present themselves and have Stanhope represented at the Fair.”

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