May 23 • 11:09 AM

Renae Brewer is new 'Little Miss'

Twenty-four Imlay City area girls walk away as winners in Blueberry Pageant

June 30, 2010
IMLAY CITY — Only in America can a dream like this come true.

With her eyes closed and her fingers crossed, 8-year-old Renae Brewer waited breathlessly; third runner up, then second and then first runner up—the names of her friends washed over her like water.

This was Renae's third year of competing in the Little Miss Blueberry Pageant. She felt she had done better this year than all the earlier years combined. She had told her mom, "Oh, I think I won, I think I won"— she squeezed her eyes shut.

Little Miss Blueberry 2010 Renae Brewer is crowned by 2009 pageant winner Layla Deleke. photo by Catherine Brakefield.

Not believing her own ears at first, she was stunned when she heard her name called, then she jumped up from her seat and ran up to the stage. Renae Brewer took her first stroll down the aisle crowned Little Miss Blueberry to Joey Scarbury's song, "Believe it or not I'm walking on air. . . flying away on a wing and a prayer, who could it be? It's ME!"

The theme of the 2010 Little Miss Blueberry Pageant was not just 'A Salute to Our Troops,' it was a salute to the American Dream. With the cheerleaders leading in the final dance number with the Blueberry contestants, "Only in America can dreams like this come true," no wonder the pageant girls return year after year to try again. Despite the troubled times, these children are not giving up.

When Renae first saw the Blueberry Pageant advertised in the paper she wanted to try again. Mom Cindy wasn't sure if they could, as the family was trying to finish their new house. But Renae was determined. She came home from school one day and said she learned a new song, "Bull Frog" in music class and she wanted to sing it for her talent contest.

"Renae went back to class and her teacher gave her the music," explains Cindy.

Renae's first idea was to have someone play the trumpet and accompany her.

"But the music was faster than she wanted to sing," says Cindy, "so she decided to do it all on her own."

With no background music, Renae sang the words of "Bull Frog." In fact, Renae knew her song so well, she added her own little self to the choreography.

When Renae drew the question, "What would you bring with you on a deserted island?" she answered without hesitation: "a grocery store and a library."

In her matter-of-fact voice Renae explained that the question was easy for her to answer.

"I love reading and I love eating," she said.

Renae's love for books began at an early age and quickly became her major hobby. Cindy can remember when she walked into her first library at the early age of three-and-a-half and saw all rows and rows of books.

"Oh my goodness," Renae exclaimed, placing her small hands on her cheeks.

Renae's parents Ray and Cindy have provided the nurturing environment that has made her who she is. She enjoys spending quality time with big sister, 19-year-old Melissa, and also enjoys romping with her 11-year-old brother, Deyton, shooting marbles, playing dodge ball, riding bikes and mainly being a tomboy.

"She never played with Barbie dolls," explains Cindy. "She liked playing in the mud, she was always a tomboy."

Little Miss Blueberry 2010 Renae Brewer (center,) surrounded by runners up Noelle Sardy, Emma Auger and Kaylee Keeley. photo by Catherine Brakefield.

Cindy wanted to fix her hair especially nice for the pageant, but Renae would have none of it.

"No, I'm fine, I look good enough," Renae told her.

This year Renae had more fun than the previous years, she was excited and wanted to win, which is unusual for her. When she told her mom she was going to win, Cindy didn't know how to address that. She hadn't won in the past, what made her think she'd win tonight?

"When they called her name, I could tell she was in shock!" said Cindy. "Moments before she had her fingers crossed and her eyes shut. We were up until 1 a.m. talking about it!"

So what about the pageant inspired Renae to enter for three consecutive years?

"I like being in the pageant because you get to meet other girls," explains Renae. "Some of them are my friends and I know them on a first name basis, it's exciting."

This year was the first time she won. However, each year brought it own rewards, Cindy says she watched her daughter gain confidence in who she was. So here are some words of wisdom for all you shy girls, coming from a former tomboy;

"This is my first time winning, so if first you don't win, keep trying. It's really fun to hang out will all the girls," Renae says. "But if you don't win, just remember. We are all winners."

No truer words were ever said. With a trophy, carnation, certificate and bag full of presents, the 24 contestants walked off the stage as very happy winners that evening.

Complementing the Little Miss Blueberry Court and first runner-up is Noelle Sardy, age 9, daughter of Jonathan and Jennifer Sardy; second runner-up Emma Auger, 9, daughter of Ron and Becki Auger; third runner-up Kaylee Keeley, 9, daughter of Jim and Deb Keeley.

"I had no inkling who would win this year, they were all great," says Pageant Chairperson Lorraine Filer. "I didn't know how the judges could even do it, they were all so good!"

The Salute to Our Troops theme for this year's pageant holds deeper meanings for many Americans, especially for Filer whose father served in WWII and son-in-law in the Gulf War.

"Our troops deserve to be saluted. Without these guys and our veterans, we wouldn't have the freedom we enjoy," Filer says. "Things are bad right now, but how much worse would they be without them? We have today because they are putting their lives on the line every day for our freedom."

'A Salute to Our Troops' got off to a patriotic start with Larassa Hollingworth singing The national anthem, then Elizabeth Prothero, Nicky, Abbie and Gordie Sherman, Emmie Dempsey, Jason Davidson, Morgan and Cheyenne Roy and Darren Filer set the mood by singing 'God Bless the USA.' The audience joined in the singing and clapped along with every contestant.

Mary Martinez, owner of Imlay City's The Learning Depot and Michigan Business Products had her evening with the stars, being crowned right along with the girls for her dedication and tireless help in the pageant.

"She did it all for me!" says a grateful Filer. "Even the programs and songs for the audience. My grandson just loves her and what better way to thank her than to present her with a crown."

Special thanks went to the great job done by emcees Kim Marrone and Kim Jorgensen and Jorgensen's Imlay City High School cheerleaders; Shelby Zegler, Rebecca Bell, Courtnie Hawk, Andrea Roberts, Jessica Soroka, Sheryl Penzien and Cassie Durfee who received a bouquet of flowers and a pleasant surprise from little Darren Filer.

Additional thanks went to Michelle Barton who helped backstage, Noel Salsido and Delores Heim who spent endless hours during the week on the pageant. Daughter-in-law Missy Filer proved endlessly supportive, Lorraine says.

"She was my co-chair person," says Lorraine. "She helped me through it all."

Husband Daniel, son Danny, and Nick Cox, have tirelessly supported the pageant each year with their expertise and dedication. Special thanks go to Lorraine's mother and sister, Edna Stoldt and Janet Schalau who took time from their busy day to prepare a delicious dinner for the seven judges.

This year was tough economically; yet citizens, businesses and private organizations showed their support for the Little Miss Blueberry Pageant very generously. Without their support, this pageant would not have been possible. It is impossible to mention everyone who helped to make the 2010 Little Miss Blueberry Pageant a success. "I thank each and every one with all my heart," adds Filer.

Little Miss Blueberry contestants will be at the Blueberry Festival on stage on Friday, Aug. 6 and in the Blueberry Parade at 6 p.m. on Sat. Aug. 7.

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