Broadcast journalist, Velonique Bowen, is the newly crowned Miss Jamaica Festival Queen 2022.Bowen, who represented Kingston and St Andrew, was among the 13 parish queens in the contest, held at the National Indoor Sports Centre on Monday (August 1).
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange presented the winner’s cheque of $600,000 at the grand coronation of the Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC)-organised competition.
First runner-up was Miss Clarendon, Sheri-Gaye Johnson, who won $350,000, with Miss Westmoreland, LeChone Redwood, securing the second runner-up prize of $200,000. Rounding off the top five were Miss St Thomas, Deidre Wadsworth and Miss Portland, Renae Thibaud.
In addition to winning the competition, Bowen also won sectional prizes, including Most Poised, Most Culturally Aware, Most Active in her community, and Most Popular on Social Media, while Johnson won the sectional prizes for Most Congenial and Best Performer. Miss Redwood was adjudged for wearing the Best Gown.
Minister Grange, who is also Patron, said the competition has produced a number of great Jamaican women, noting that she was proud of the contestants.
“We have really done well with this competition,” the Minister noted.
She explained that throughout the years, the competition, which started as a beauty pageant, has evolved.
“It first started as a beauty pageant, and then a decision was taken that it had to be more than just beauty. They say beauty is skin deep but we must look at that inner person, so all the girls now have to display some talent,” she said.
Among the guests was Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Geoffrey Onyeama, who represented President, Muhammadu Buhari.
He said his presence is indicative of the bilateral ties between the two nations.
“I’m here to show solidarity with the people of Jamaica during its 60th anniversary [celebrations], so it’s really to convey the goodwill of the people of Nigeria and to come here and share with you on this joyous occasion,” he added.
A past student of St Andrew High School for Girls, Bowen recently completed her bachelor’s degree in Journalism at The University of the West Indies, with a minor in cultural studies.
She is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Cultural Studies, with an aim to pursue a doctorate.
The Miss Jamaica Festival Queen Competition is one of several activities to commemorate the country’s 60th anniversary of Independence. The Diamond Jubilee celebrations are being held under the theme ‘Reigniting A Nation for Greatness’.
This competition began in 1963 as the ‘Miss Jamaica Beauty Contest’ and has grown over the years to become the premier forum for intelligent, culturally aware and poised young ladies seeking a platform for their contribution to nation-building.