Cape Town:15/11/14 A surprised Emmerencia Jones from Meltrade was crowned Spring Queen 2014 organised by Sactwu 25th annual competition. Pix Jack Lestrade

Svenja Kellershohn

THE SA Clothing and Textile Workers Union celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Spring Queen pageant on Saturday night when thousands of factory workers converged on the Good Hope Centre in support of their contestants.

Participants from 44 factories across Cape Town modelled a number of locally manufactured garments before dressing up in evening gowns and parading in front of a panel of judges.

A party atmosphere prevailed at the Good Hope Centre as top Cape Town musicians such as Jimmy Nevis and Nur Abrahams provided first-class entertainment for the workers, who, in a crowd of thousands, screamed support for their favourite contestants.

With shouts of “smile, lovey smile” and “relax meisie, (young girl) relax”, supporters encouraged the visibly nervous contestants.

After a parade before the judges, the 44 contestants were reduced to 20. Noise levels in the centre then reached fever pitch as five finalists were chosen – the best personality, the best-dressed contestant, two princesses and a queen.

At the end of the evening it was Emerantia Jones, a worker at Meltrade, who was crowned 2014 Sactwu Spring Queen. Her princesses were Carney Smith, from TCIA, and Chenay Solomons, from Sweet Or & Lybro.

Saturday’s event also had a singing talent competition which featured two factory workers and the daughter of a factory worker. Together, the three walked off with cash prizes worth R15 000.

The aim of the pageant was mentioned several times on Saturday night, namely to support and buy locally manufactured clothing and create awareness of the connection between fashion and jobs.

The Spring Queen contest focuses on ordinary workers, their hopes and aspirations, putting faces to the garments and shoes sold in retail stores and boutiques across South Africa.