By Kevin Kelley
New social situations can be nerve-wracking for some people. For the five contestants in this year’s Ohio Rose of Tralee contest, the added complication that they’re being judged might add to the anxiety they face in Rose-related appearances.
The international Rose of Tralee competition is open to unmarried women, ages 18-27, of Irish descent. Judging is based on communication skills, poise, personality and talent. Westlake, which began a sister-city relationship with Tralee, Ireland, in 2009, has hosted a regional competition for three years. Named after a 19th-century ballad about unrequited love, the contest is part of a weeklong festival in the Irish town. The final segment of the Rose of Tralee contest is broadcast nationally in Ireland.
To ease their anxiety and help them feel more comfortable with the process, contest organizers held a reception and dinner for the contestants Friday evening at Westwood Country Club. Patrick Campbell and Rebecca Brady-Campbell, owners of the Brady Campbell Irish Dance School in Cleveland, were the guest speakers.
The husband and wife were cast members in both “Lord of the Dance” and Michael Flatley’s “Celtic Tiger.” Rose organizers thought they’d be the perfect people to give tips on how to overcome stage fright.
A native of Dublin, Rebecca suggested that contestants pretend they’re someone else if it helps them be less nervous. Having good posture and maintaining eye contact with the person one is speaking with are also important, she said.
Patrick, a Cleveland native, spoke of the importance of meeting new people and remembering their names.
“You never know when someone can help you in the future in life,” he said.
Formal judging of the five contestants began Saturday at Westlake City Hall. The selection program takes place Friday night at the LaCentre Conference and Banquet Facility in Westlake. The emcee for the past three years, sportswriter Dan Coughlin, will be joined in the hosting duties by Bridget Linton, the 2011 Northern Ohio Rose.
Tickets cost $75 for the main reception and event, $125 for the VIP reception and event. The VIP reception begins at 6 p.m., with the main reception starting an hour later. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, desserts and an open bar are featured. The current mayor of Tralee, Johnnie Wall, as well as the mayor of Westlake’s other sister city, Nelson Santos of Kingsville, Ontario, is scheduled to attend the event. To purchase tickets, download the order form from the Northern Ohio Rose website at northernohiorose.com. No tickets will be mailed, but name tags/tickets will be given out at the door.
A free public event featuring the Rose contestants and the visiting mayors will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Crocker Park at the Vine Theater next to the Cheesecake Factory. Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough will present the mayors with Keys to the City to commemorate the occasion.
A public crowning of the contestant selected the previous evening as the 2013 Ohio Rose of Tralee will also take place. In addition, “roses” in sashes will be distributing tickets for prize drawings to people attending the event. Winners must be present between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to receive their prize.
Saturday’s Crocker Park event will be emceed by Gerry Quinn, host of “Gerry Quinn’s Irish Radio,” broadcast each Sunday morning on 1420 AM.