Newly crowned Miss Tri-Cities conquers more than the stage

By Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJuly 21, 2013 

It's tradition for Miss Tri-Cities to appear at the annual Benton Franklin Fair in Kennewick. But don't just look for 2013 winner Janae Calaway on the performance stage, doing her jazz dance routine.

She will also be in the livestock area showing her 4-H steer. She has won grand champion at the fair several times.

"I start my summer mornings at the barn in cow boots, then put on my dance shoes, then my pageant heels," Calaway, 18, said Sunday, the day after winning the crown over seven other young women at a competition at Kennewick High School.

Calaway graduated from Chiawana High School in Pasco and Columbia Basin College in recent weeks. This fall, she will begin studies at Brigham Young University as a junior. She plans on majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism, while minoring in psychology.

Calaway is a second-generation Miss Tri-Cities winner. Her mother, Beverly Beus Calaway, won the competition in 1982. Janae Calaway said she adored her mother's crown since she was little.

"I always dreamed of being Miss America," she said. "I didn't expect to win (Miss Tri-Cities) the first time around, but I'm very honored."

Calaway, a former winner of the state and Miss Tri-Cities Oustanding teen contests, will get a chance to go for the Miss America title if she can win the Miss Washington pageant in July 2014.

Watching her daughter win brought a familiar feeling for Beverly Calaway.

"I think I felt the same as when I won it myself," she said. "For me, it didn't seem real until I saw the crown on my nightstand."

Dot Stewart, executive director for the Miss Tri-Cities Scholarship Program, said it is fun to see how the winners grow over the year as Miss Tri-Cities. They make numerous public appearances and support a platform.

"Every year, it's kind of a blessing to see them kind of blossom throughout the year," Stewart said. "There is a large difference in their ability to speak and perform. It's a real joy to see them."

Providing support for cancer patients will be Calaway's platform issue during her reign. She became close to the issue when her best friend recovered from Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2010. For two years, Calaway has organized workshops where businesses and other groups make flip-flops and fleece-tied blankets for cancer patients.

They have made more than 400 pairs of flip-flops and 20 blankets that have been taken to children's hospitals in several states.

"I really want to help make a difference in their lives," she said. "I think this title will help serve as an excellent microphone to do that."

Calaway appreciates the time she got to spend with the other competitors. The backstage time ran from the frantically preparing for the next event, to an hour-long wait before the evening wear competition.

"It was a fantastic year," she said. "All the girls have been really great."

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