The 2009 Miss Cayman Islands pageant has been cancelled due to a lack of government funding.
‘The Miss Cayman Islands Committee has, after much thought and discussion, decided not to host a pageant this year,’ read a statement from the Committee. ‘This means that no representative for the Cayman Islands will be attending the 2009 Miss World Pageant and the 2010 Miss Universe pageant.’
The Miss Cayman pageant is subsidised by $100,000 of government funding, with the winner receiving a $70,000 prize pack of an educational scholarship, a new car, along with a host of other prizes.
Carson Ebanks, the tourism ministry’s chief officer said: ‘The Ministry is supportive of the Committee’s position to defer the pageant until we are more solvent and the economy begins to recover.’
The Miss Cayman Committee hopes that the action will be viewed favourably, as the intention is to remove one more financial obligation from the government’s current budget.
The six contestants slated to take part in this year’s pageant: Mysti Bush, Sabrina Jackson, Shari Walton, Carmen Gorham, Sasha Powell and Sarah Ebanks, were given the disappointing news on Friday during a meeting hosted by the Miss Cayman Committee.
The contestants were told that the pageant was cancelled because government just did not have the money at this time for the pageant to take place, said Ms Bush.
They were also told that, hopefully, when government was in a better financial situation, they would think about hosting the contest next summer.
The six contestants have, for the past nine weeks, undergone vigorous training under the watchful eyes of Miss Cayman Committee members, trainers and professionals.
Contestant Shari Walton said she was very disappointed when she was given the news, due to the amount of time and training she had put in for the pageant. However, she added, she did feel that it was important that the committee had recognised that other things going on in the community were more important and felt it would be more beneficial to the government and the pageant itself for it to be cancelled at this time.
‘I feel that in the long run it will provide contestants with more time to prepare ourselves for the contest and allow other young adults to enter the pageant as well,’ said Ms Walton.
Miss Powell also said she understood why the decision was made to not go through with the contest. The Committee members said it was better for Government to keep a few people in jobs than to host the pageant.
‘Hopefully next year they can start it back again, at which time I will have to see what next year brings about for me,’ said Ms Powell.
Miss Bush said it was admirable that the committee had decided to cancel the pageant, because they were looking out for Government employees. She also said she wondered why the committee had not sought funding from the private sector.
‘The committee should have funds in reserve for emergencies such as this,’ she said.
‘Technically it makes a lot of sense,’ said Ms Jackson. ‘If the government is broke, most naturally they would have to postpone the contest. The pageant would be an added expense to the government, and like the committee said, using the money might put some civil servants out of a job.
‘I think the decision to not hold the pageant was a good one based on government’s current expenses. Hopefully when the government is in a better financial position they will hold the contest.’
The Miss Cayman pageant was scheduled to take place at the Lions Centre on 26 September. It was pushed back until 26 October and then cancelled six weeks before the new queen would receive the title and crown from the reigning Miss Cayman Nicosia Lawson, who recently returned from representing Cayman in the Miss Universe pageant in the Bahamas.
The cancellation means that Ms Lawson will continue on in her reign as Miss Cayman.
This is the second time in recent years the Miss Cayman contest has been cancelled. In 2005, it was cancelled because of the damage to Grand Cayman caused by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004.