National Outdoor Show weekend fun for all

MD-Outdoor show front 4x

Dorchester Banner/Paul Clipper
Miss Outdoors contestants open the Friday night show with a dance number. From left, Aubrey Shenton, Paige Bleyer, Chelsie Abbott, Josie Johnston, Ashley Rose Pete.

GOLDEN HILL—The National Outdoor Show here this weekend was a huge success and proved to be fun for all once again. This was the 70th annual Outdoor Show, and the K-8 school was packed both Friday night and Saturday. “It’s a lot to pack into two days,” said Marlene Mettinger of the National Outdoor Show Foundation, “but I think everything went really well.”

Friday night was the introduction to this year’s event, as the doors opened and folks streamed in to visit the vendors that packed every one of the school rooms. The big event, though, was the crowning of Miss Outdoors for 2015.

Five girls were competing for this year’s honor—Chelsie Abbot, Paige Bleyer, Josie Johnston, Ashley Pete and Aubrey Shenton. The girls competed in casual wear, evening wear, a talent competition and The Big Question—in which they had to give an answer to “Where do you see yourself in five years?”

In the talent competition, the girls all sang or danced, but Ms. Bleyer had a different approach. She is an accomplished fast-pitch softball competitor, and when her turn came up she strode out on stage in sporting clothes with a catcher and backstop to help her out. She gave a demonstration of her pitching skills, which include being able to throw a 60 mph fast ball. There’s no doubt that the uniqueness of her talent presentation won the crowd, and apparently swayed the judges as well.

In the end, Paige took the win with a “triple crown.” She won the Miss Congeniality award from her peers, she won the Talent award, and ultimately took the Miss Outdoors crown. All of which was a complete surprise to her and her family. She was given the crown and sash by 2014 Miss Outdoors Lauren Cameron.

“This was a pretty big deal, this was different for us,” said Paige’s father, Jayson Bleyer. “She’s been doing softball for years and years, so we’re used to going to athletic competitions, but this is something completely different. So when she came home on the very last day to enter and said, ‘Dad, I’m going to enter the Outdoor Show,’ we were like…really? Why? She said, ‘Just to do something different, I’ve never done it before. It’s a good opportunity to do something different and there’s scholarship money available.’ So we said go for it, we’re proud of her for being willing to do something different.

“We were definitely surprised when she won,” Jayson said. “She told us, ‘I know I’m not going to win, but I just want to get in and do it.’”
“She was so excited today,” said Paige’s mom, Wendy. “She said, ‘I’ve got to eat muskrat today!’”

When asked if she knew she was going to win, Paige said, “No, of course not! This was just something different, I thought I’d give it a twirl!” After taking the win she promised, “Hopefully I’ll represent Dorchester County well.”

(See a slide show of images from the National Outdoor Show by clicking the box below)

Saturday morning was the presentation of the Little Mister and Little Miss competitors, and you couldn’t ask for a pageant full of cuter kids. It had to be very difficult for the judges to come to a decision, but in the end two of the kids stood out.

Logan Jump from South Hurlock Elementary School was the winner in the Little Mister competition. Logan said he liked playing with Legos and also liked scouting deer. He also said he liked dressing up for the event, and would like wearing the boy’s crown for the event.

The Little Miss crown went to Madelyn Bierly, who stood out from the start. Where the other girls gave yes or no answers to the emcee’s questions, when Madelyn met the microphone it was like seeing a junior Joan Rivers on the stage. When this writer said that Madelyn was a real character, her mother replied, “Are you kidding? There’s a reason why she’s an only child!” Madelyn was great fun and will make an excellent Little Miss Outdoors.

The two new Little Miss and Little Mister winners were crowned with a farewell from the 2014 title holders, Little Miss Madelyn Hall, and Little Mister Gibby Robinson.

The afternoon was taken up with a full schedule of events, including a game cooking demonstration, a muskrat cooking competition, duck, goose and turkey calling competition, log sawing, pole skinning, a photo contest and lots more.
In the evening, emcee Buddy Foxwell introduced the new Miss Outdoors and Little Miss and Little Mister to the full house on hand, and also introduced the delegation from Louisiana.

The Outdoors Show has a “sister city” in Louisiana, and the annual Fur and Wildlife Festival in Cameron Parish, Louisiana. A group of representatives from Cameron Parish come up each year to Golden Hill, and a group from the Outdoors Show travel to Cameron Parish each year for their festival. Miss Cameron Parish Morgan Hardie, the Queen of the Fur and Wildlife Festival, joined our new Queen Paige Bleyer for all of the night’s activities.

Paige was asked if she would now be learning how to skin a muskrat, to which she excitedly said, “Tonight! I’m doing it tonight!”

Buddy Oberender and Tommy Spicer welcomed the crowd, and turned the evening over to Buddy Foxwell. Then began an oyster race, a corn shelling competition and an oyster shucking competition. Mr. Foxwell also hosted a live auction to benefit the outdoor show, in which an exquisite hand-sewn muskrat fur teddy bear fetched $1050 from one lucky bidder.

The auditorium was full for the skinning competitions. There was a Junior and Senior raccoon skinning, an old timers muskrat skinning, junior muskrat skinning and former Dorchester County champions muskrat skinning. There was a beginner’s muskrat skinning competition that featured both Miss Outdoors and Miss Cameron Parish, and the lady from Louisiana took the win there.

Paige’s first attempt at muskrat skinning didn’t go all that well. She had coaching from one of the best, but her knife handling skills weren’t up to the job. We’ll predict that, with the drive she exhibits in softball, by next year she’ll be an ace muskrat skinner!

The International Muskrat Skinning competitions were the best to watch, though. Witnessing the way these pros handle a knife is truly awe-inspiring. The Women’s class was required to skin three muskrats. Once again Dakota Abbott demonstrated that she is an expert skinner in the Women’s class by finishing in 1:02.11, repeating her 2014 title win for 2015.

Jason Abbott scored the quickest finish in the Men’s division, skinning his five muskrats perfectly in 1:38.24. That is just about 20 seconds per animal; and if you have never seen it done you’d better get down to the Outdoor Show next year and watch these guys skin! This is Jason’s sixth world championship win, in a competition that is an Abbott family tradition in Dorchester County (Dakota is a second cousin to Jason).

The National Outdoor Show this year was dedicated to the memory of three people.

Elihu “Colt” Abbott, 15 years old, was a born outdoorsman and an accomplished High School athlete. To quote the Outdoor Show program, “Colt gave 110 percent in everything he did and motivated others to do the same. He was kind, honest and caring and his electric smile drew others to him”. Colt was killed in a tragic accident early in 2014, and this 70th annual Outdoor Show was dedicated to his memory.

Christina Woodland Seaman was a past treasurer of the National Outdoors Foundation, and she was devoted to serving her community and her family. She was born in Crocheron and was active in the South Dorchester Community Association and helped plan the SDCA Fishing Tournament. The Outdoor Show was dedicated to the memory of Ms. Seaman.

The Show was also dedicated to James Bradley Trahan, an ambassador for the Cameron Parish Wildlife and Fur Festival. He was a great friend of everyone involved with the Outdoor Show, and enjoyed traveling to Maryland to visit. His biggest joy was to host the Maryland Delegation at the Louisiana festival, where he and his family would cook up a feed for all the visitors that defied description. He was a great friend to all and will be greatly missed by his family and his Maryland family.

Paul Clipper is the editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at pclipper@newszap.com.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.