BLOOMFIELD, NJ - The Miss Essex Pageant was back in full swing this past Saturday night.  All the glamour and glitz that you could anticipate from a Miss America pageant were there.  The pageant was revitalized by Pageant Director, Rosa Baez.  The pageant was on hiatus for over 10 years.  Baez’s daughter, Venessa Baez, was on deck as producer to help out with Saturday afternoon’s pageant at the Bloomfield Middle School. 

“We are excited that the pageant happened, and we crowned our Miss Essex County,” Baez said.

The Miss Essex County winner was Jessica Marie Ervey of Andover who performed a jazz dance to a song from Hair Spray – you can’t stop the beat. She is 20 years old and studying Elementary Education at Centenary University.  Ervey also won the Interview award.

Sign Up for E-News

“I am thrilled.  I competed with such wonderful young women.  It is going to be an honor to represent Miss Essex County at the State pageant,” Ervey said.

The scholarship she received is $500; a crochet blanket; a Build a Bear donated by Olga Centeno; a 20 minute teeth whitening donated by Kinda Hanna Yacoub, D.D.D.; a crown; a sash; flowers donated by Leonor Lipari; $200 gift certificate donated by COCO’s Chateau; a week at Miss New Jersey; and $200 Cash Award for Evening Gown to Miss New Jersey.

According to official program book provided by the Miss Essex County pageant, Baez said, “For many years, I have been on the other side of the spectrum.  My daughter, Venessa Baez, competed for the Miss America system for several years.  It was then that my family, and I developed the love and respect for this organization.  I am delighted to continue being a part of it, as the director for the Miss Essex County Scholarship Program.”

First Runner Up was Justine Brooke Murray who did a vocal performance. Murray won a $100 scholarship and $50 cash award.

“I learned a lot of about performing my talent on stage and competing,” Murray said.

Talent award went to Pompton Lakes, Katrina Biss who sang Barbra Streisand’s, “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” in an Emerald-Green gown.

“It takes energy to perform a song like “Don’t Rain On My Parade,” but it was worth it,” Biss said.

Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts danced at the beginning of the show.

The pageant started off originally with 9 contestants and then bottomed off with 6 contestants.  The pageant was opened to Essex, Morris and Union counties.

The contestants were Justine Brooke Murray of Denville; Brittany Ann Cadet of Bloomfield; Jennifer A. Woods of Haledon; Jessica Marie Ervey of Andover; Katrina Biss of Pompton Lakes and Jailene Ortiz of East Orange.

“This was my first pageant, and I performed a salsa dance.  I am going to come back next year,” Brittany Cadet, Contestant of Bloomfield said.

Contestants performed an array of talent showcasing a salsa dance; a belly dance; a jazz dance; a monologue and two vocal performances.

Evening wear outfits were paraded by colors of white and black; pink; yellow; black and silver and red.

Questions on stage were asked by moderator, Venessa Baez, who challenged the contestants to answer about Breast Cancer Awareness to Make a Wish Foundation.  Each contestant answered the question according to her personal platform as part of the Miss American Foundation Organization requires.

There were 7 judges: Judge’s Chair, Courtney Charatsaris; Jennifer Conway; Hon. Shane C. Berger; Evelyn McCleod; Lizette Perez-Brown; Rommel Gopez; Sammi-Jo Danze; and Shevaun Cavanaugh Kastl.

Choreographer was Samantha Rossi of Nutley who has been performing for many years.  Auditor was Dr. Steven E. McHugh; Tabulator, Monica Rosado and EMCEE was Lindsey Petrosh-Delia.

Sound system was provided by Bloomfield Resident, “Uncle Roy,” Roy B. Yokelson.

The mission statement is to provide unparalleled scholarship and service opportunities to young women in the Garden State.

All crowned county winners will compete at the Miss New Jersey pageant which is held in Wildwood, New Jersey for a week in May.  For more information, visit