RAISING TAIL!

Jun. 07, 2014 @ 08:35 PM

It’s the only pageant ballerina, astronaut, bee keeper, lieutenant and an old woman can take the stage and all vie for the same crown — The 2014 Beaver Queen Pageant.

With costumes donned and tails raised, the five contestants showed their best sides all to benefit the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association and Beaver Lodge Local 1504 … Oh, and of course, the environment.

What started off 10 years ago has grown into family fun, even with a few innuendoes that organizers call “pure silliness.”

Lee Ann Tilley, a board member with the ECWA, has been working on the pageant for two years. She said her first time at the pageant was what sparked her interest in the organization.

“Then I learned all about the good work they were doing,” she said. “This is just such a fun day.”

Plus, Tilley gets to raise money for a cause, all while being silly.

“It’s family friendly,” she said. “But there are a lot of things that will go over the children’s head.”

It’s also a neighborhood party for those who live around Duke Park.

For spectators, it’s not your average beauty pageant. There is no swimwear event. Or nightgown. Instead, there are portions for best tail, best bribe and even Miss Hygeniality.

Bribing is of course encouraged at this pageant, and for judge Muffley Merken, it’s one of her favorite parts.

“I am very fond of bribery,” she said. During the pageant she received hand-crafted beavers and gift certificates to Durham businesses and other treats.

Merken isn’t a newcomer to the Beaver Queen Pageant. In 2006 she competed in it. She holds the title of youngest contestant ever. This was her first year judging.

“It’s truly gotten so much bigger, and so much better,” Merken said. “I’m so happy to see all these beaver lovers out here today. People have truly embraced the wetlands.”

At Saturday’s pageant the five contestants took the stage to proudly display their tails and talents. Beav Aldrin, Space Pioneer performed in aerial silks. Beaverina Ballerina did a ballet routine, toe points included. Lieutenant Furhura brought out bribes to the judges while dancing. Miss Honey Bee-Vherr sang and danced. Mrs. Clairée Chandler Chappell also sang.

Throughout the pageant crowd members were encouraged to participate and donate money for votes. Tilley said last year she estimates there were about 600 people in attendance, but there was no official count. This year organizers believe it was the largest crowd in its existence, which helps them reach their goal of raising $16,000.

When all was said and done, the awards were handed out. From titles like “Best Tail,” “Best Bribes” and “Miss Hygeniality” the pageant takes on a life of its own. It’s that uniqueness and commitment to the community that has helped grow the pageant into an event where toddlers and parents alike can wear hand-made beaver tails.

The title of Beaver Queen 2014 went to Beav Aldrin, and with the tradition, she took her crown and danced to a cover of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” altered slightly to “Beaver Queen.” The music echoed throughout Duke Park as crowd members danced in celebration with the newly-crowned queen.

“It’s just a neighborhood party where people come and just enjoy being silly,” Tilley said. “It’s all volunteer [organized]. Every year you think it can’t be as good as last year … but it is just as much fun as last year.”