By Sarah Naron

Messenger Reporter

LOVELADY – After the 2018 Lovefest Queen is crowned during a coronation held Thursday, Feb. 8, her tiny royal counterparts, Little Mr. and Miss Lovefest, will be named during the 36th annual Baby Beauty Contest scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10 in the Lovelady First United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall.

“The judging begins at 10 a.m.,” said contest coordinator JoAnn Henry. “If you want to see the parade, you can come after the parade.”

Henry explained that boy and girl contestants will be judged separately in the age categories of 0-6 months, 7-12 months, one-year-olds, two-year-olds, three-year-olds and four-year-olds.

First-, second-, and third-place trophies will be awarded in each category. The highest-scoring boy and girl overall will be awarded the titles of Little Mr. and Miss Lovefest.

“The trophies will be given on the bandstand located in the city park at 1 p.m.,” Henry said.

Henry said all contestant information should be submitted by Thursday, Feb. 8. Contestants who are unable to meet the deadline may be granted the opportunity to register at the door on the day of the event at the discretion of the contest coordinators.

“We will take all the information by phone, if they would like, and then, they can send their check,” said Henry.

Henry stressed the importance of entry forms including the gender of the contestant.

“If it’s Morgan something, we don’t know if Morgan is a boy or a girl,” she pointed out.

In addition, parents must provide their child’s address, age, date of birth, name and telephone number. An entry fee of $15 is required of all participants.

“We finally went up to $15 because the price of trophies goes up,” explained Henry, acknowledging the fact that the entry fee was previously $10. “We have to try to keep up ourselves.”

Checks should be made payable to Lovelady FUMC and may be sent to Mary Allen at P.O. Box 87 Lovelady, TX 75851.

As Henry explained, the Baby Beauty Contest has been hosted by the Lovelady FUMC since the first Lovefest in 1983.

“We had it at the high school,” Henry said of the contest’s early days. “I can’t believe that it started like that. Everyone who had a child entered in the contest was in the audience, and we had the stage. We had one judge.”

Henry explained that the contest coordinators were careful to select a judge who did not reside in Lovelady or have ties to anyone in town to ensure that the judging was fair.

“Everybody could see every child judged,” she said. “It took a month of Sundays to do that, so we had to change our format.”

The contest location was changed to the Lovelady FUMC Fellowship Hall, where the plentiful space and added judges have helped the event run smoother.

“The Baby Beauty Contest is really something,” said Henry. “It has a little sneaky way of changing some little avenue of our life.”

Henry, a longtime resident of Houston County, explained that she would happen upon “beautiful babies” while out and about in Crockett, but keep her admiration to herself.

“Now, after being involved in this, I go over and I say, ‘Oh, your baby is so beautiful!’” she chuckled. “And the next thing I know, I’m saying ‘goochy-goochy-goo,’ and that little baby is smiling.

“I would never do that (before),” she continued. “But now, I just notice babies everywhere. I notice little children everywhere.”

For more information on the contest, call Allen at (936)-636-7372 or Henry at (936)-624-6407.

Sarah Naron may be reached via email at snaron@messenger-news.com.