LORAIN — Colleen Ziegman, of Elyria, is Lorain’s new International Queen.
The 17-year-old Colleen, who will enter her senior year at Elyria High School in August, was chosen from among 14 princesses during the 48th annual pageant before about 200 at the Palace Theatre Thursday. Each princess represents her ethnic heritage, with Colleen representing the Philippines.
The first runner-up was Anastazja Golab, representing Poland. The second runner-up was Rachel Kozma, representing Hungary. The third runner-up was Onyx Lopez, representing Mexico.
Each contestant recorded a short audio biography that was played on stage. Colleen recalled her grandmother telling her how she met her husband who was stationed in the Philippines during World War II. Colleen spoke about learning how to cook Filipino dishes and learning Filipino folk dances as a child.
“I am truly blessed to be representing my Filipino heritage,” said Colleen, who performed a Filipino water dance during the talent portion of the pageant. “I hope one day to travel to the Philippines and experience its beauty first hand.”
Contestants were voted on by three judges from the All-American Judges Association, who are from outside Lorain County, said Nikki Soto, pageant chairwoman and International Association of Lorain vice president. Contestants were scored in 10 categories.
Eight were scored from interviews Thursday with judges before the pageant and included knowledge of their heritage. Two were based on stage presentation before the talent portion, which wasn’t scored.
Contestants usually are between 16 and 19, said Soto, who has been chairwoman since 2010 and competed as the Irish princess in 1998. She said the pageant hasn’t changed much since she competed.
Contestants begin their orientation in March and visit facilities for mentally disabled people, nursing homes and schools. They also take part in a Lorain City Council meeting learning parliamentary procedures. Soto said the visits help build the princesses’ confidence.
Colleen and the runners-up, who will be eligible for college scholarships between about $300 and $1,200, will visit events and festivals around Ohio for the next year representing Lorain and the association. Soto said the princesses must attend at least a dozen events to receive their scholarships, but most attend about 40.
Soto said the main goal of the experience is for contestants to learn about their heritage from their relatives and then share it with the community.
“This is a community organization. We give a lot to these girls, and they like to give it back,” she said. “They go above and beyond.”
Photographer Kristin Bauer contributed to this story.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or email@example.com.
The Lorain International Festival begins today and runs through Sunday with a variety of events at Black River Landing, 421 Black River Lane, Lorain. Daily admission is $2.
- 6 p.m. – Grand opening ceremonies
- 6:30 p.m. – Tatra Highlander Dancers
- 7 p.m. – Chamberlain Irish Dancers
- 7:30 p.m. – Zumba
- 8-11 p.m. – J.D. Elcher & The Goodnights
- Noon to 1 p.m. – Patriots Symphonic Band
- 1 p.m. – St. Nicholas Greek Hellenic Dancers
- 2 p.m. – African Royalty Dancers
- 2:30 p.m. – International Princess Entertainment
- 3 p.m. – Black River Kayak-a-Thon awards ceremony
- 3:30 p.m. – Sezatorea Romanian Dance Group
- 4 p.m. – Alma de Mexico
- 4:30 p.m. – Pure Country Dancers
- 5 p.m. – Hungarian Folk Dancers
- 5:30 p.m. – Escencia Boricua Cultural de Lorain
- 6 p.m. – Zumba
- 6:30-7:30 p.m. – Jesse Terry
- 8-11 p.m. – Midnight Special Band
- 1 p.m. – Tango Cleveland
- 1:30 p.m. – Raks Shadan Dance Troupe
- 2 p.m. – 2013 Queens court and visiting royalty
- 2:30 p.m. – Hellenic Dancers
- 3 p.m. – St. Clement Macedonian Dancers
- 3:30 p.m. – Croatian Dance Group
- 4 p.m. – Philippine American Association of Lorain County Dancers
- 4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.- Northcoast Mix – polka band
- 6 p.m. – 50/50 raffle prior to festival close