Arts and Entertainment

The road to Mr. South Whidbey

Mr. South Whidbey candidates participate in the Whidbey Island Area Fair parade. - Claudia Fuller photo
Mr. South Whidbey candidates participate in the Whidbey Island Area Fair parade.
— image credit: Claudia Fuller photo

Get ready to be wowed.

The Mr. South Whidbey Pageant is nearing and contestants are drumming up support from around the community.

Tom Churchill, Kent Ratekin, Russell Sparkman, Gordon Stewart and Ben Thomas will each take the stage to compete for the coveted title on Saturday, Oct. 5.

Sue Frause will emcee the event.

The contest is in its 8th year and is a fundraiser for the Friends of Friends Medical Support Fund, an organization dedicated to helping people in South Whidbey with medical expenses.

There are no hard-and-fast rules to the competition. Basically, the contestant who raises the most money wins. Each dollar donated to a contestant equals one vote in their favor.

Contestants can raise money before and during the contest. Votes can also be made online for each competitor.

On the big night, each contestant has five minutes to wow the crowd to vote in their favor. Once they’re through, the money is tallied up and a new Mr. South Whidbey is crowned.

Christi Ruscigno, a board member of Friends of Friends, said contestants surprise her every year with their antics.

“That’s one of the things I love about it,” Ruscigno said.

The contestants have already received pledges and are gaining momentum for the event. All of the money will go into the general fund for the organization, but how it’s raised is up to the contestants, she said.

Nick Welles, a barista at Useless Bay Coffee Company, took home the crown last year. Welles, along with the other 2012 contestants, raised around $22,000 for the foundation.

“We are thankful to have these guys in our community. This pageant is nothing without these guys,” she said.

Contestant Q&A

Russell Sparkman

Age: 54

Residence: Langley

Occupation: Multimedia, Photo/Video, Marketing Communications

How long have you lived on South Whidbey? 12 years

What do you want readers to know about you? That this is my favorite quote by Mark Twain: “Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

What is your biggest shortcoming? My biggest shortcoming is not being able to acknowledge my shortcomings.

Why should you be Mr. South Whidbey? Because after serving as a member of the Langley City Council, it’s an opportunity to serve the community in a capacity that has more influence and that garners more respect.

Gordon Stewart

Age: 40

Residence: Freeland

Occupation: Chef/Owner of Gordon’s on Blueberry Hill.

How long have you lived on South Whidbey? 12 years.

What do you want readers to know about you? I would like people to know that I am deeply dedicated to our community and believe in supporting it.

What is your biggest shortcoming? My biggest shortcoming is that I have a very hard time “Keeping it Simple.”

Why should you be Mr. South Whidbey? I should win “Mister South Whidbey” because I can honestly say I am the “biggest” personality on the Island.

Tom Churchill

Age: 79

Residence: Langley

Occupation: Writer-actor /amateur

How long have you lived on South Whidbey? Off and on for 45 years.

What do you want readers to know about you? I care more about health care for everyone than for any other issue.

What is your biggest shortcoming? Ego.

Why should you be Mr. South Whidbey? If I pull in the most cash, the question and answer become moot.

 

 

Ben Thomas

Age: 50

Residence: Maxwelton Valley

Occupation: National Expert on Underground Petroleum Storage Tanks

How long have you lived on South Whidbey? 11 years

What do you want readers to know about you? I’m just your typical post-nuclear-tie-dye-environmental-entrepreneur husband/father-of-teens kind of guy.

What is your biggest shortcoming? Not seeing enough movies at the Clyde.

Why should you be Mr. South Whidbey? Because when they asked for my candidacy I had no decent reason to say no.

 

Kent Ratekin

Age: 60

Residence: Langley

Occupation: Full time English/History/Art teacher at Langley Middle School.

How long have you lived on South Whidbey? 19 years.

What do you want readers to know about you? I am married to a wonderful woman, Tricia Beckner-Ratekin, have two grown daughters and one grandchild with one on the way. We helped start the Langley Second Street Market 3 years ago to begin to bring fresh, organic foods to a Friday Fair. I pioneered the Waldorf School in Bellingham (Whatcom Hills Waldorf School), and helped the Waldorf School get off the ground here on Whidbey Island, which is how I came to live here. I was the teacher of their first graduating 8th grade class in 1994.

What is your biggest shortcoming? You’ll have to ask people around me about shortcomings. There’s too many in my own mind: I’m excessive, wild, immature and overly emotional but I try to do the right thing as much as possible.

Why should you be Mr. South Whidbey? I, actually, would not like to be Mr. South Whidbey, but couldn’t say no to helping such a fine organization. I won’t have to worry about it  anyway as all my friends are poor but wonderful.

 


 


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