Lauren Vermilion stepped off the stage at Town Square Plaza Park in Kent just moments after being named the 2010 Miss Cornucopia, to jump into the arms of boyfriend Blake Densley.
“I was surprised and really, really excited,” said Vermilion, dressed in a blue formal gown, after she was crowned on a hot July 9 afternoon as the 39th Miss Cornucopia. “I was hoping for it. It’s a really big honor and the other girls were all well-qualified.”
Vermilion will join princesses Erica Rodarte, Renelyn Cruz and Emily Anguiano to represent Kent at various festivals this summer in the Seattle area, including Seafair July 31-Aug. 8 and the Renton Rivers Days July 23-25. They participated at the Cornucopia Days grand parade July 11 in downtown Kent.
Melissa Smith, the 2009 Miss Cornucopia, presented Vermilion with the crown in front of a small audience after Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke announced Vermilion as the winner.
Vermilion, 18, who graduated last month from Kentridge High School, received a $3,000 scholarship for winning the scholarship pageant. She also received a $500 scholarship for winning the Community Service Award given by the Kent Police Employees Benevolent Association.
“I always have been in the parade and admired the princesses,” said Vermilion, who participated in past Cornucopia Days parades as a dancer with the South Side Dance Force of Kent. “Every little girl wants to be a princess.”
Vermilion also watched her older sister, Megan Vermilion, compete in the Miss Cornucopia pageant last year. Megan Vermilion won the 2009 Academic Award from the Kent Lions Club.
Contestants were judged on their grade-point averages and test scores, the type of classes they take, community-service involvement, interviews about Cornucopia Days and on an essay they wrote about what community service means to an individual and the community.
Vermilion became involved in community service through an environmental club she and Densley started as juniors at Kentridge to recycle items at the school cafeteria and to help remove invasive weeds from the city of Kent’s Clark Lake Park.
Both projects tie in with Vermilion’s goals to major in environmental policy at Western Washington University in Bellingham. She plans to become an environmental lawyer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“I want to work for the EPA to help find companies that are dumping toxic waste and file class-action lawsuits against them to clean it up,” Vermilion said.
Vermilion, the daughter of Dana and Mark Vermilion, grew up on the James Street hill in Kent. She said she always practiced recycling and had a strong interest in the environment.
“I wanted to go into something to help the environment and other people and that’s something that covers both,” Vermilion said about becoming an environmental attorney. “I can hold up my own in a debate. And my friends always said I’d be a good lawyer. But I’m not doing it for the money, I just think it would be a good career.”
If Vermilion’s goals to become an attorney do not work out, she might go into commercial art because she likes to paint. She served as vice president of the art club at Kentridge.
Meanwhile, Vermilion has duties to do as Miss Cornucopia.
“I’m really, really excited to represent the city of Kent,” Vermilion said. “I was born and raised here and was hoping to be the queen.”
The other contestants were Anguiano, 18, a Kentridge graduate who received the $500 Academic Award from the Kent Lions Club and plans to attend Western Washington University and study kinesiology to become a physical therapist; Rodarte, 21, a Kentridge graduate, who plans to attend Eastern Washington University to study nursing; and Cruz, 18, a Kentridge graduate, who attends Green River Community College and is undecided about a major.