GREENVILLE — Annie Oakley advocated women learn a sport primarily dominated by men, and today this advocacy is honored every year at the Annie Oakley Festival.
Six contestants sought out the title of Miss Annie Oakley 2021 on Wednesday and Thursday, but only one shooter would take home the title. This year’s winner’s reason for competing has a special place in her heart.
The 2021 Miss Annie Oakley, Paige Brewer, is the daughter of James and Tracy Brewer from Yorkshire. Brewer was at a complete loss for words when she won, but quickly became emotional when she opened up about why she competed in the first place.
“I did it for my Grandma Sue,” Brewer said. “She always called me her ‘Miss Little Annie Oakley.’ I did it for her. It’s the only real reason.”
Brewer’s grandma passed away in 2015 after a battle with cancer, and even though she was not at the contest in person, Brewer truly believes her grandmother was there with her the whole time to help guide her.
“I was shaky on the last shot, and then I felt my heart get warm like I just got a hug,” Brewer said. “I calmed down and that’s when I knew I got this.”
Brewer is proud of her accomplishments and happy she was able to gain the title her grandmother always knew she deserved. Brewer wasn’t the only emotional spectator in sight, the 2019 – 2020 Miss Annie Oakley, Madison Werner, shared her story on how rewarding the title has been to her.
Werner believes her experience being Annie was quite the adventure, but what made it awesome was her ability to give back to the community. In Oct. 2020 Werner was hired by the Brethren’s Home as an STNA.
She claimed the residents were depressed and sad due to the COVID-19 restrictions, and she was able to spark some happiness by spreading the news of Annie.
“To see the spark of happiness in their eyes is rewarding,” Werner said. “I got asked to stay after work to talk about Annie Oakley and later come back in costume.”
She is truly grateful for the joy she has been able to spread as Annie especially in the trying times of a pandemic outbreak. Closing her speech at Annie Oakley’s gravesite following the contest, Werner paid tribute to the social norms Annie Oakley broke and acknowledged the new Miss Annie Oakley.
“She was known for being an awesome woman who broke stereotypical norms by shooting guns,” Werner said. “Thank you Annie. Thank you supporters, and good luck, Paige.”
The Annie Oakley Center Foundation sponsored this year’s 2021 Annie Oakley Shooting & Costume Competition; as well as, graciously donated checks to the winners of the contest.
An extended special thank you is being granted to Dean and Arlene Bankson at Wieland Jewelers. They have graciously donated the top three finishers’ necklaces over the years, and their contributions are greatly appreciated and recognized by all the members of the competition.
For more information regarding the Annie Oakley festival visit www.annieoakleyfestival.org. If you are interested in becoming a future sponsor please contact JoEllen Melling, President of the Annie Oakley Festival Committee at 927-548-1018 or email [email protected]