In a year where nothing is normal, two young ladies stepped forward to compete for the title of 2020 Sweetheart of the Mountains. Their efforts shattered records and ended in the closest score since the event was brought back in 2014. In the end, Zaya White of Loyalton came out on top in an event that judges the poise and talents of young ladies from Sierra and Plumas counties. She faced strong competition from Runner Up Chyanne Morrison of Quincy. Both girls turned in amazing efforts in fundraising, which benefits the PSCF Foundation, a non-profit that supports the Plumas Sierra County Fairgrounds.
Half the money goes to improving the fairgrounds and the other half goes toward the competitor’s education. Being crowned Sweetheart of the Mountains gives Zaya an additional $1,000 scholarship, and Chyanne will receive $500.
The poise and talent competition was done by videotaping the girl’s efforts, which was passed on to judges from across the West Coast.
“Although we truly missed the live performances,” noted Fair Manager John Steffanic, “by having the girls video their poise questions and talents, we were able to tap a wider variety of judges, which Zaya and Chyanne deserved.”
Steffanic noted he was able to recruit more diversity in age and experience with this year’s judges, something that is more difficult when trying to schedule people for a live event.
Usually, the girls draw one of 15 questions they have seen before. They then have to give a response before the live audience. In this case, the girls still drew a question, and then were given 10 minutes to go out on the fairgrounds, find a quiet spot, and record their response.
That additional time of reflection resulted in thoughtful and poised responses. For their talents, Zaya performed a Mexican dance, which was colorful and visually beautiful. Chyanne demonstrated her archery skills in a creative video that leaves you impressed and laughing. The videos may soon be viewable on the fair’s website.
A special side note on this year’s Sweetheart: Zaya’s great grandmother, Betty Carmichael Ceresola, was crowned Plumas County Fair Queen in 1948. Although the Sweetheart of the Mountains title didn’t appear until 1954, all the titleholders of pageants associated with the Plumas County Fair before then were considered “Sweetheart of the Mountains.” Betty’s father, Frank Carmichael, and uncle, C. Roy Carmichael, were active on the Fair Board and livestock committees in the early days of the modern Plumas County Fair. The Fair is excited to have that very real link to the early days of its existence.
Zaya will be taking her title to Butte College this fall to play basketball and study radiology. Chyanne is off to college in Idaho to become a teacher. The efforts, abilities and poise of these two young ladies set the bar high for others that will hopefully follow. Competition for the 2021 Sweetheart of the Mountains is scheduled to begin in January of 2021.