By Melanie Williamson
The Vermilion Chamber of Commerce has announced the Morgan Bennett, the 2018 Festival of the Fish Queen will be the Parade Marshall for the 2019 Festival of the Fish Father’s Day parade. Executive director Sandy Coe shared that they chose Bennett because of the amazing job she has done over the last year acting as an ambassador for Vermilion.
Bennett was named 1st attendant at the 2017 Festival of the Fish and spent that year traveling to other festivals representing Vermilion. She shared that it was a great experience and really pushed her to compete again in 2018. She went on to say that it really helped her enhance her public speaking skills and build confidence, so that she felt more prepared going into the competition again.
After being named queen, Bennett decided to really focus her efforts on being more involved in the community and encouraging other young people to be more involved. This meant less traveling to other festivals, more activity in town. This has included participating in Third Thursday and other community events, attending ribbon cuttings for new businesses, and conducting radio interviews promoting Vermilion as a tourist destination.
As a member of the VHS cheerleading squad, she also participated in a senior prom put on at Kingston for the residents. She worked to get other VHS students involved in community events and service projects throughout the community.
When asked what she learned from her experience, Bennett replied that she really learned the importance of community involvement. She stated it was exciting to be at an event and have little children come up and talk to her, asking if she was the queen. She also shared that she learned a lot about public speaking and networking. She helped out however she was needed at city events and was able to answer a lot of questions for people visiting.
Her advice to young residents thinking about competing in the pageant is to “go for it!” She said she knows it seems scary, but it really isn’t. She encouraged those thinking about competing to be confident and authentic. “Don’t think to much about it” she advised, just be yourself.
Despite stepping down as queen, Bennett wants to continue being involved and encouraging Vermilion youth to be more involved in the community.