El Dorado Rose 2012 enjoys the limelight

By From page B1 | June 18, 2012

As the limelight shimmered off her vivid green satin gown, Sharon McDavid became the 2012 El Dorado Rose.

Since the judges had a tough decision to make, it was an exciting moment. McDavid, 75, is a “walking résumé” of volunteer service, one of the major judging points.

A longtime Placerville resident, McDavid was nominated by the Placerville Shakespeare Club of which she is past president.

“Yes, I was surprised; none of us had any idea who would become the official Rose, but I am so happy,” McDavid smiled radiantly. “And you know, my husband is now the El Dorado Blossom!”

Mary Ann Harper, 2011 El Dorado Rose transferred the sash to McDavid with typical effusion, glad that she will always be part of the Rose Court.

Her husband, Harry Harper, she declared, will always be an El Dorado Thorn. With McDavid as El Dorado Rose, though, McDavid’s husband Dr. Herb Blossom can now officially be the El Dorado Blossom — by virtue of his name and his wife’s title.

Like Harper, candidates Claudia Bethke, Sandy Kowalski and Rosemary Lewis will be permanent Ladies of the Court and are eligible to run for El Dorado Rose again in the future.

The Most Authentic Costume trophy went to Bethke, whose beautiful layered ensemble was genuine to the core, like Bethke herself. Wearing an original antique tea dress with a train from the 1890s, she looked like she could have been featured in a fashion magazine of the times.

Candidate Rosemary Lewis received the Best Reproduction trophy. She wore an authentic reproduction of a tribal working dress replete with feathers and beautiful beading. The Northern Plains sun dress was made of cow hide and Lewis sewed it herself along with the moccasins and purse. Lewis carried a powder horn given to her by her great grandfather, and the feather was presented to her by her nephew, Eric Johnson of the Makah Nation. She wore a Navajo Squash Blossom necklace.

Wearing a long black wig beneath the traditional headpiece, Lewis didn’t look old enough to be a rose. The Native American outfit, juxtaposed with the frilly gowns had its own dignified elegance. Different and beautiful, Lewis’ ensemble reminded one that America and California’s original inhabitants had significant culture long before the arrival of the Europeans. Lewis exalted her heritage as part of the Saukfox Tribe in the Sioux Nation.

This year the Rose Pageant was held in the Imagination Theater providing a theater atmosphere that seemed more comfortable than the outdoor stage where it was usually held.

To start off the program, Golden Roses Normadene Carpenter 2011 and Judy Muetz 2012 introduced the Ladies of the Court. This was followed by a lively presentation of “Frankie and Johnny” performed by Lisa Collins, Carol Smith and Larry Smith.

A presentation of the “Okei Ito Story,” captivated the audience as well as the Placerville Shakespeare Club’s dance troupe preforms a rendition of the Japanese dance Asadoya Yunta.

The story of Okei Ito is one of El Dorado County’s most interesting and tragic legacies. The late Joan Barsotti captured the tale in her book “The Story of Okei San” available in local bookstores.

One of just two survivors of the ill-fated Wakamatsu Tea Colony, Okei was taken in by the pioneer Veerkamp family. Still a teenager, she died, never to see her beloved homeland again. In Gold Hill where Okei gazed to the horizon, lonely and longing for Japan, there is an Okei San memorial/monument.

After the beautiful Japanese dance, “Vibrance” was presented by Bonnie Flint, Sherry Rowe, Lynn Johnston and Vicky Lampe — which was as vibrant as its title.

After the past Roses, Rose Court and Golden Roses were presented and county officials and El Dorado Rose judges were introduced, the Rose candidates promenaded before an adoring audience.

With her usual graciousness and verve, Rose President 2008 El Dorado Rose Carole Burnley read the candidates’ résumés as each Rose was escorted onto the stage.

With the announcement of the winner, Harper presented the sash to the new Rose and 2012 El Dorado Rose McDavid acknowledged her the crowd as Collins sang the traditional song, “El Dorado Rose,” an original tribute to the Roses.

The program was wrapped up with the El Dorado Rose Pageant’s signature song “When You’re Smiling.”

To read the articles about each El Dorado Rose candidate go to the Mountain Democrat Website at

E-mail the writer at [email protected]

Susana Carey Wey

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