Gibson and Una

Melvin Gibson of Liberty Nursing Center of Mansfield and Una Kellar of Crestwood Care Center were crowned king and queen, respectively, Monday at the Richland County Fair's annual Ageless Beauty Contest.

MANSFIELD -- Richland County's own Melvin (Mel) Gibson was crowned king at the Richland County Fair's 37th annual Ageless Beauty Contest.

The nontraditional pageant features local nursing home residents, who compete for a crown and year-long titles of King, Queen, Duke and Duchess. 

A fiery, fun-loving 81-year-old from Liberty Nursing Center of Mansfield, Gibson stole the show Monday afternoon with his rendition of Elvis Presley's "Blue Suede Shoes" and rallying cry of "Freedom," borrowed from the more famous Mel Gibson, an actor from the popular 1995 movie Braveheart.  

"I don't know how I got a crown, but I had fun," said Gibson, who was born in Kentucky. 

Upon receiving his crown, he performed another Presley hit, "Hound Dog." He missed a few lines, but the audience -- other nursing home residents, their families and nursing home staff -- still cheered and applauded his effort. 

Una Kellar of Crestwood Care Center didn't sing, but she did pull some heartstrings when saying she'd served as a foster parent to more than two dozen babies. She had 42 foster children in total, a relative later added. 

"I had two teenagers, and they helped. Husband did, too, but he didn't change any diapers that I remember," Kellar said.

The 95-year-old woman lived in Macedonia, Ohio most of her adult-life. She was always short and never very lucky. 

"I never won anything like this," Kellar said. 

santoro and washington

Bob Santoro of the Arbors of Mifflin and Josephine Washington of Liberty Nursing Center of Mansfield were named the pageant's Duke and Duchess respectively. 

The runners-up, Bob Santoro of the Arbors of Mifflin and Josephine Washington of Liberty Nursing Center of Mansfield were named the pageant's Duke and Duchess, respectively. 

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Santoro, 90, showed up for the contest intent on taking home a title. He wore his own gold paper crown throughout the competition. He said he was a Cleveland Indians fan and a Richland County Sheriff's Department fan. 

Washington, 92, told the audience that she loved working with other people. Her face lit up when realizing she was runner-up. 

One of the organizers, Kim Ivy, said its these types of smiles that encourage her to keep the pageant going.  

"I just love this. I love that the residents get to come out for a day at the fair, and they get excited. They have so much fun," she said.

And to add to the fun, each year's pageant has a new theme. This year's was "Winter Wonderland." Paper cut-out snowflakes were posted nearly every wall and beam, and Christmas trees, topped with snowflakes, were highlighted on stage. 

"We just try to have fun with it," Ivy said. 

Staff Reporter

Proud Pennsylvania native. Joined the staff in April 2017. Formerly Tracy Geibel.