Women Compete for Title 3 from Jacksonville Vie to Be Mrs. Florida

By Strickland, Sandy | The Florida Times Union, July 4, 1998 | Go to article overview

Women Compete for Title 3 from Jacksonville Vie to Be Mrs. Florida


Strickland, Sandy, The Florida Times Union


Shelane Burkett has been in training since November.

She's on a rigorous diet and exercise regimen.

She religiously watches TV news programs and combs the

newspaper for stories on political issues and trends.

Family members fire questions at her as she walks around the

house to see how fast she can respond.

"It's like training for the triathlon," Burkett said. "I think

about it from the time I get up until the time I go to bed. The

dieting and exercise are gruesome, but the interview category is

what I've lost sleep over."

It's all part of some neighborly competition that will be going

on in Orlando next weekend.

Burkett is one of three Jacksonville women -- two from the

Westside and one from Southside -- who will be competing in the

Mrs. Florida Pageant at 4 p.m. July 12 at the Bob Carr

Performing Arts Center. It's the preliminary to the nationally

televised Mrs. America contest.

Burkett is a pageant veteran, though she said she didn't behave

during her first contest at the Normandy Mall Shopping Center.

So she only placed third. Of course, she was 2 at the time.

The 30-year-old Jacksonville native, who was on her best

behavior in succeeding competitions, said she always placed in

the top 5, despite what she calls her short stature. She's

5-foot-2.

At age 19, she retired from the circuit after competing in the

Miss Florida-USA contest in Miami. Marriage and a family

followed. Her stepson, Kevin Jr., is 13 and daughter Brittany is

8.

The Westside resident, who is Mrs. Duval County, said she

entered the contest at the urging of her husband Kevin, who had

seen it on TV.

"I was pretty skeptical at first," Burkett said. "But he kept

after me until I finally said, `OK, OK.' I thought my pageant

days were over. I didn't know that married women had a pageant."

Melissa Bonaparte of the Westside also will compete against

Burkett and 23 other contestants in the Mrs. Florida contest.

Last year, Bonaparte was Mrs. Duval County. This year she is

Mrs. Jacksonville. The 26-year-old made it to the top 10 in last

year's Mrs. …

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