Miss Finger Lakes Review & Preview 2016

This weekend is the 18th annual Miss Finger Lakes and Miss Upstate New York pageant. This year 14 beautiful ladies and 4 terrific teens will be competing for four crowns and entry to the 2016 Miss New York and Miss New York’s Outstanding Teen competitions.

The Miss Finger Lakes Pageant has been going on for nearly two decades, with an extensive legacy, and even a few state titleholders. Since adding the Miss Upstate New York title, the competition was open to girls north of the Bronx. However this year, in an effort to increase the number of locals girls are eligible for, the pageant opened statewide. Once again, the dynamic duo Lorna Rose, Miss Finger Lakes 2009, and Allie Curtis, Miss Upstate New York 2012, will be returning to host the event.


This year, the Miss Finger Lakes team decided to bypass the annual Little Miss Finger Lakes fundraiser pageant, where the Outstanding Teens are crowned. Following the direction of other local pageants, the Outstanding Teens will now compete and be crowned alongside the Miss contestants.

Miss Finger Lakes 2015, Kerisa Bonville

Kerisa Bonville dedicated her time as Miss Finger Lakes advocating for anxiety and depression disorders. She attended many events throughout the Finger Lakes, and across the state. She visited schools, was interviewed on local news stations, and volunteered with the animal shelter. She even represented the Miss Finger Lakes title as a speaker at the International OCD Foundation Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Most recently, she attended the Miss Flower City 2016 pageant, where she performed the National Anthem.

Miss Upstate New York 2015, Lauren Crandall

Lauren Crandall split her time as Miss Upstate New York quite literally serving across upstate New York. She attended parades, held workshops at schools and with Girl Scout troops, attended rallies at the Capitol, and was a keynote speaker at a Lavender Graduation Ceremony and a Breaking the Silence to End Domestic Violence Conference.She dedicated her time promoting her platform Helping Students Thrive: it’s EASY, which shows the community that Education, Advocacy, Safe Spaces, and Youth Groups are vital to a student’s success in school and life.


This year is bound to be stiff competition. Every. Single. Contestant. has either held a title or placed at a recent Miss New York local pageant. There are former state titleholders from other systems, former Outstanding Teens, and many repeat Miss Finger Lake contestants. The competition is going to be entertaining and it is going to be competitive.


1. Colleen Denmon

  • Miss Central New York’s Outstanding Teen 2015, 4th Runner Up

2. Rachelle Dillio

  • Model at Mary Therese Friel, LLC

3. Kerri Gulkis

  • Little Miss Colonial Days 2015

4. Lauryn Whitfield

  • National American Miss New York (North) Junior Teen 2014
  • Competed at Miss Flower City’s Outstanding Teen


1. Amanda Abdagic

  • Talent: Monologue
  • Miss Mohawk Valley 2013
  • 1st Runner Up at Miss Syracuse 2016

2. Deidre Benton

  • First MAO pageant
  • Miss Black New York National Ambassador 2015

3. Shanika Bridges

  • First MAO Pageant
  • Miss Tioga Downs 2014
  • Miss Tioga County Fair Teen 2011

4. Allison Carlos

  • Talent: Dance
  • Miss New York’s Outstanding Teen 2007
  • Miss Forest Queen 2011
  • Miss Thousand Islands 2012
  • Miss Thousand Islands 2015, Top 10
  • 3rd Runner Up at Miss Flower City 2016

5. Neetu Chandak

  • Talent: Piano
  • Miss Finger Lakes’ Outstanding Teen 2013

6. Hannah Cooper

  • Talent: Dance
  • Miss Erie County Teen USA 2014
  • Competed in Miss Buffalo 2015 and Miss Finger Lakes 2015

7. Diana Cotrone

  • Talent: Clarinet
  • 2nd Runner Up at Miss New York International 2014

8. Heather Graves

  • Talent: Dance
  • 1st Runner Up at Miss Empire Rose 2015

9. Kelly Hoffman

  • Talent: Musical Theater Dance
  • Miss New York National Teenager 2008
  • National American Miss New York Teen (North) 2009

10. Shelley Jain

  • Miss Staten Island Outstanding Teen 2010
  • Miss New York City’s Outstanding Teen 2011
  • National American Miss New York Teen (South) 2012

11. Alka Marala

  • Miss Finger Lakes’ Outstanding Teen 2012

12. Emma Silen

  • Talent: Monologue
  • Miss NYS Fair 2015
  • 1st Runner Up at Miss Pride of NY 2016
  • 4th Runner Up at Miss Flower City 2016

13. Sarah Soltish

  • Talent: Dance
  • Miss Dutchess County Teen USA 2014

14. Alexandra Sprague

  • Talent: Dance
  • Miss Forest Queen 2015


With an Open title, judges are going to look for someone who will still represent the Miss Finger Lakes title in the region, and the Miss Upstate New York title across the state. Girls will do well if they are able to convey their plans as a local titleholder in the interview room. It is very likely that the winners will be the ones with the strongest interview. Even though judges are instructed not to compare, the abundance of dancers will have a difficult time standing out from one another. Especially if Allison Carlos uses the dance routine which secured her a Top 10 spot at Miss New York last year. Dancers specifically should show their identity in the interview room, and make the judges look forward to their talent routines. Girls who are not dancing are going to break the monotony, and should use this to their advantage as well.

So who will take the crowns?

I think the Teen crowns will go to Colleen Denmon and Lauryn Whitfield. Both have pageant experience at the state level, have practiced their interviews, and have some MNYOT experience.

The Miss crowns are so difficult to predict because there are so many former titleholders with so much cumulative experience. The Top 6 will quite possibly be:

  1. Allison Carlos
  2. Kelly Hoffman
  3. Neetu Chandak
  4. Emma Silen
  5. Amanda Abdagic
  6. Shelley Jain

But we never know who will walk away with the crowns until the pageant finishes. It is impossible to know who is going to win without knowing exactly what the judges are looking for and how the girls will perform. Strong girls have bad days, new girls can shine, and seasoned veterans are constantly improving. No matter which girls walk away as the newest members of the Miss New York Class of 2016, it’s because they put their heart on the stage and earned it.


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