Locals showcase talent at new Bear Paw variety show

Wednesday, July 13, 2016 - 13:53
2015 Bear Paw royalty will serve another year after new director takes over pageant competition
  • Eagle River folk music composer and performer, Connor Crowley, entertained the crowd at the Amateur Hour Youth Variety Show on Thursday, July 7, at the Chugiak High School auditorium. Photo by Amy Armstrong for The Star

If you thought there was something remotely familiar about the Bear Paw Royalty handing out awards last weekend, you are correct.

Last year’s court remained in place for the 2016 Bears in Paradise Bear Paw Festival.

The Miss Bear Paw Pageant’s longtime former directors Nancy Arnold and Kathleen Kursteen retired from the volunteer position earlier this year, leaving a gaping hole with no one to fill it.

“They did a wonderful job running the Miss Bear Paw pageant for years,” Deb Morton said. “It was time for someone new to take on the job.”

Enter Morton, an Eagle River resident with plenty of pageant experience and a heart beating for community service. She is the Ms. Petite United America Ambassador – a life-long title she received in summer 2015 after her year as Ms. Petite United America 2014 was completed. In 2013, Morton was the Ms. Alaska Classic United America. The United America pageant system is based on volunteerism.

That’s what Morton will be elbows deep in for the next year on behalf of the 2017 Miss Bear Paw Pageant based on plans she announced during last weekend’s Bear Paw to revamp the local scholarship pageant.

Morton wants the current reigning court making public appearances year-round; she wants next year’s potential candidates to self-identify and begin community service work long before the pageant begins.

Unfortunately, Morton said, her role as the Miss Bear Paw director came too close to the festival for a pageant competition to be held this year.

Thus, last year’s court remained in place.

That was just fine with Sarah Dykman, 2015-16 Miss Bear Paw Princess.

She manned the concession stand on July 7 — the first day of the 2016 Bear Paw Festival — at Chugiak High School’s auditorium where the Amateur Hour Youth Variety Show was held.

“I am very happy to continue representing the Chugiak-Eagle River area as a Bear Paw Princess,” Dykman said. “It is great that I get another year of doing this.”

The variety show served as the 2016 substitute for the pageant.

It featured storytelling by Kate Kirby, Charlie Lowell and Olive Spohnholz-Johnson, the latter of which gave a hilarious re-telling of her first kiss attempt that ended up with her lips landing on the intended’s chin instead.

Local stand-up comedian Dontae Robertson got the gathered crowd of about 50 people laughing. Connor Crowley, an Eagle River folk music composer and performer, played guitar and presented a new song about wool socks.

Members of the Chugiak Improv Troup — Daniel Fujimoto, Gwen Jones, Robbie Kosinki, Robertson and Evan Spencer — performed as well presenting a rousing made-up-on-the spot highly-localized rendition of a combination of the stories of Hansel and Gretel and Amelia Earhart featuring five different genres of verbal presentation: Action, historical, horror, roundhouse and sci-fi.

Each time one of the five improv performers stumbled on their words as the story was presented, they had to a die an acted-out death chosen by the audience. Chosen death selections included choking on air, allergies to turtles and a flying dude shooting lasers.

Results for a scholarship competition affiliated with Bear Paw in which entrants submitted their version of “paradise” in the form of art, audio, essays or other creative submissions were announced at the youth talent show. The scholarships are sponsored by the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, the Chugiak-Eagle River Foundation, the Jim Palmer Family and the Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions.

The recipients are:

Evelyn Sharratt-Ash: $1,000

Zoua Hang: $500 from the Jim Palmer Family Scholarship (first ever recipient)

Brianna Bundick-Kelly: $500

Jaia Thao: $250

Dontae Robertson: $250


Connect with Amy Armstrong via email at [email protected] or online at www.facebook.com/pages/Armstrong-Communications-Words-by-Amy-Marie.

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