Five seeking Miss Merced County title

Miss Merced County 2010 will be crowned Saturday, Jan. 16, at Buhach Colony High School's performing arts center.

Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin will host the event, with Crystal Lee, former Miss California Outstanding Teen, and Jenna Harvey, first runner up in the 2009 Miss California contest.

Five local women will compete for the title of Miss Merced County, along with the opportunity to compete at the Miss California pageant in July.

This year's contestants are:

- Celeste Castillo, a 17-year-old senior at Golden Valley High School. She will perform a concerto on the violin.

- Myla Bastien, an 18-year-old freshman at UC Merced. She will perform a contemporary dance.

- Erika Maldonado, a 22-year-old UC Merced graduate currently employed as a therapist. She will perform a jazz dance.

- Laura Schwarz, an 18-year-old freshman at San Jose State University and graduate of Merced High. she will perform a ballet.

- Briana Verderber, a 17-year-old senior at Buhach Colony High School. She will perform a song.

Also during the event, two other titles will be awarded. Miss Yosemite Valley and Miss Sierra Nevada will be selected from a number of women competing in the open competition. Competitors include: Felicia Alvarez, 22, a student at San Jose State University; Sophie Andrade, 22, a graduate of University of California, Berkeley; Erin Bolhorst, 23, a student at UC Santa Cruz; Shantel Byrd, 20, a student at CSU Monterey Bay; Alexandra Calingo, 22, post-graduate student at Dominican University of California; Tiffany Flossman, 20, student at UC Davis; Nicole Honaker, 24, graduate of CSU, Sacramento; Elizabeth Kress, 23, Graduate of Pepperdine University;Jasmine Nachtigall, 19, Sophomore, Stanford University; Sara Risvold, 20, Porterville College;Sarah Rutan, 22, Graduate, San Jose State University; Marissa Santana, 19, California State University, Monterey Bay; Brittany Taylor, 20, Saddleback Community College and Saddleback College; Jennifer Humble, 18, Dominican University.

Miss California Kristen Cavinder (Miss Yosemite Valley 2009) is scheduled to perform and crown the new titleholders. She will leave the following week for Las Vegas, where she will compete in the 2010 Miss America pageant.

Miss Merced County is a franchise of the Miss America organization. Scholarships will be awarded to contestants depending upon their placement on the final night of competition. The 35th annual competition will begin at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6:30.

Advance tickets are $15 each. After Jan. 10, tickets increase to $20 per person. Tickets may be obtained from any of the contestants and committee members. For information, call (209) 261-9363.

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