Babies delight crowd at Northern Navajo Fair
By Noel Lyn Smith
SHIPROCK, October 11, 2012
(Times photo – Paul Natonabah)
D ressed in a green velvet shirt and white pants, Orion Clashin Johnson stepped toward the small table to demonstrate his talent in the tiny division at the Northern Navajo Baby Pageant.
Orion then stood still while his mother, Candice Clashin-Johnson, tied a small Blue Bird Flour apron around his body.
A chorus of "aah" immediately rose from the audience when they saw Orion, 25 months, wearing the apron.
That delightful expression was one of many that carried throughout the pageant, held here Oct. 4 as part of the 101st Northern Navajo Nation Fair. After the apron was secured, Orion poured into a glass bowl a small bag of flour and baking soda then sprinkled salt from his tiny right hand before adding water.
He used a small whisk to mix the ingredients.
"Come on baby," Candice said while encouraging Orion to shape the dough but he grew nervous and motioned to leave the stage.
As his father, Manuel Johnson III, packed the table, Candice asked Orion to wave goodbye to the judges and audience.
"This year we were more prepared than last year," Candice said after Orion's demonstration.
"Except he got stage fright," Manuel said with a smile.
Candice said Orion practiced for a month.
He watches when Candice and her sisters are baking cakes, sparking his cooking interest, she said.
"He's wonderful," Manuel said proudly looking at his son.
Earlier in the day, Ryver Blue-Thunder Wilson, 5 months, won first place in the baby division.
Ryver's parents, Shardai Piocag and Eric Wilson of Upper Fruitland, N.M., were delighted about their son's accomplishment.
"It's something new," Eric said. "It was fun."
"We weren't expecting to win and when he did it was a surprise," Shardai said.
Both Ryver and Eric were dressed in men's Northern traditional regalia.
Ryver's regalia was a similar smaller version of Eric's, complete with a velvet shirt, Pendleton fabric pants, beaded belt, silver bracelet, breastplate and a beaded necklace.
This was the first pageant for the family.
"I wanted to enter because I never was entered into one," Eric said about the reason for Ryver's participation in the pageant.
For almost 20 years Shiprock residents Thom and Fannie Dayish have coordinated the event.
Fannie said she enjoys the atmosphere the event creates and it is a way for families to spend time together and it helps the baby gain confidence.
"They come out of their shells and perform," she said.
Contestants are also judged on outfits and photogenic qualities, which creates a baby friendly environment.
"We kind of want to give everyone a chance," Fannie said.
There were 45 contestants divided into age categories including baby 0-12 months, toddler 13-24 months, and tiny 25-36 months.
The overall baby pageant winner was Tylynn D. Yazzie, who demonstrated how to grind corn. She is the daughter of Titus and Lynn Yazzie of Shiprock.
Other winners include:
• Baby division: 1st – Ryver Blue-Thunder Wilson; 2nd – Xavi Arrowtopknot; 3rd – Jayden Chavez; 4th – Natalie Nez; 5th – Wyatt James Charles; Best dressed: Acacia Shemayne; Photogenic: Tyleah Wilson.
• Toddler division: 1st – Keira Franklin; 2nd – Ceyonna Jones; 3rd – Isabelle Holiday; 4th – MiaKoda Crank; 5th – Noahana Halwood; Best dressed: Morgan Jimenez; Photogenic: Taylor White.
• Tiny division: 1st – Tylynn D. Yazzie; 2nd – Alba June Allen; 3rd – Hayden Dan; 4th – Orion Clashin Johnson; 5th – KeAndria Begaye; Best dressed: Caidence Baudoin; Photogenic: Acaia Yazzie.