By Ted Waddell
MONTICELLO July 26, 2005 First there were 55 contestants. Then there 16 finalists.
On Sunday afternoon, 20-year-old Elizabeth Lounsbury of Montgomery was crowned Ms. Monticello Raceway 2005, while Marisol Fortea was tabbed first runner-up and Karla Diaz was selected as the second runner-up.
Diaz, 20, of Middletown, a first- time beauty pageant entrant, took home a check for $1,000.
It was great, she said I wanted to try something new.
After Diaz accepted her trophy, it was time for the crowd to choose between the last two finalists Fortea and Lounsbury as the pageant came down to the wire. The lady who received more cheers from the crowd would be crowned Ms. Monticello Raceway 2005.
Fortea, a 20-year-old resident of Middletown, was picked by the crowd as first runner-up and received $2,000.
I placed in the final 16 two years ago, and after I saw it advertised in the paper and figured why not try it again, she said.
Lounsbury said that winning the pageant gave her the most amazing feeling
Ive never done anything like this before.
Shes going to use the grand prize of $5,000 to pay off her 2004 Jeep Cherokee.
Her take on the level of competition?
It was hard because every girl was beautiful, Lounsbury replied. I gave it a shot and I won.
The 16 finalists included 23-year-old Kimberly Weyandt of Narrowsburg. She graduated from her local high school in 2000 and last year earned a bachelors degree from Binghamton University.
Ive never done anything like this before, and its not me at all, but Im willing to try new things and meet new people, said Weyandt, who is the editorial assistant at an area newspaper.
When asked what is was like to compete against the 15 other finalists in the swimsuit category, Weyandt replied, Its like a dream where you walk into a room and youre naked or in your underwear, and everyone is laughing at you
youre self-conscious because youre half-naked.
But that didnt deter what must have seemed like half of her hometown from watching Weyandt compete in the swimsuit and evening gown competitions on stage before a crowd of several hundred folks as they watched the beauty pageant between the races.
Among those cheering on Weyandt were her parents, a couple of aunts, an uncle, three cousins and her boyfriend.
And a lot of friends
more people than I wanted to see me in a bathing suit, Weyandt commented.
Two years ago, 30-year-old Maria Pappas competed in the local pageant but didnt make the finals. On Sunday, Pappas was one of the 16 finalists.
When asked by emcee/pageant sponsor Larry Roman how she would spend the prize money if she were chosen either the winner, first runner-up or second runner-up, Pappas said that she hoped to replace the wooly mammoth, which she explained is the aging boiler in the 100-year-old house that she and her husband recently bought in Forestburgh.
The judges for the finals of Ms. Monticello Raceway Beauty Pageant were Terry Busardo, who is the Human Resources Manager at Mighty M Gaming; Cathy Caouette, Mighty M Gaming Accounting Manager; Drew Kaufman, a bodybuilder/physical trainer; Joe Logan, Building and Grounds Superintendent for the Ellenville School District; Richard Pelzer, Managing Director at MegaManagement of New York City; and Sullivan County Democrat Sports Editor Rob Potter.