When to debut my Miss America talent?? Week 16!!

This week was the beginning of more intensive preparations for the Miss America Pageant! We received many messages from the Miss America office, including the wardrobe requirements for this year’s pageant. I ordered my swimsuit from Komplique and a Joseph Ribkoff dress for the opening number. Since next week is a busy one, I worked diligently on interview and talent! Thankfully, for the next two months, we have scheduled one day a week for Miss America preparation.

Tuesday, I was honored to share my story of mentoring pregnant teenagers at the Promise House with the Arkansas Southern Baptist Convention. After speaking to hundreds of pastors, I received lots of encouragement and positive feedback. Later, my alma mater was represented when the Ouachita Baptist University Choir performed and President Rex Horne shared a report. I sat in the audience as one of the proud alumni!

Sharing the stage with Promise House supporters.

Wednesday was a great day! I spent the afternoon making paper crowns and other crafts with kids at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. I visited with a teenage girl for 20 minutes as we sat at the crafts table. When she asked a nurse to move her from the table, I noticed her amputated leg. Surprised at first since she had made no mention of it, I was so inspired by her courage, patience, and sincere personality. I loved meeting the children, signing autographs, and posing for pictures, especially with the little boys who were too nervous to ask for a picture!

Thursday, I was welcomed by friends and family to Carlisle, Arkansas. My father graduated from Carlisle High School and many of my family still live there. Also, Miss Arkansas 2006, Amber Bennett Bynum, is a Carlisle native. Carlisle loves Miss Arkansas, particularly when she has roots in their hometown!

I spoke at both Carlisle Elementary School and Carlisle High School. Chris Hart, my cousin who is a student there, introduced me to the high school audience. He did a wonderful job, and the audience was so responsive to my message! I joked throughout my presentation with the four boys in suits, calling them “my secret service”. The students asked some of the most significant questions that I have received in a school setting. They wanted to know, “What motivates you?” and “How do you get over the fear of failure?” It was a privilege to share my morning with those students!

I taught Gracie in dance when I was in high school! She has grown up so much!!
My cousin introduced me!
My "secret service"
The best, most supportive family!

I then spent the afternoon working on a promotional video for Miss America! Thank you to Jennifer White for her help with the video and the familiar chats about life. Also, thank you to the girls who volunteered to be in this video! Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS6PqgmaWOo

Friday, I met Lori Crawford for a photo shoot in and around Stuttgart. Lori had scouted some great spots and had many awesome ideas! I loved working with her and thought the photos turned out great!

Sunday, I spoke at Gateway International Church in Lonoke. What a gracious, caring group they are! I was especially grateful for the prayer the congregation shared for my year as Miss Arkansas.

Later, I met Mr. Danny Barger in Jacksonville for a photo shoot with You’ve Got the Look Photography. Tommy Lyons met me there to give me a beautiful fur coat from Venue, Chapel Pharmacy, and Gibson Auto Sales!! Mr. Danny’s photo will be used for my Christmas card! I will post a few favorites to Facebook and let friends choose the winning picture! Ashton Campbell, Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen, also joined me for the shoot, and we had a great time! Because she lives in Northwest Arkansas, I don’t get to see her as much as I would like. She is a vivacious, beautiful girl, and I am very proud of her!

Next week will be so much fun! I will speak to schools and a home crowd at the Producer’s Rice Mill annual meeting. On Wednesday, I will be on Channel 4 during the noon hour to discuss self-esteem. I also look forward to the Miss University of Central Arkansas Pageant on Friday night!! Then, I will head to Fayetteville to cheer on the Razorbacks! Go Hogs Go!

Many people have been asking when I will debut my talent performance for Miss America. I am excited to announce that my first performance will be at the annual Queen Mallard Pageant!! Since Miss Alabama had already reserved “I Got Rhythm,” I was asked to find a new song. We chose a remix of Mozart’s classical piano piece, Sonata #11. I would describe the music as unique, invigorating, and fast. My dance teacher and former Miss Arkansas, Micki Petrus Konecny has done an incredible job with the choreography, and I have worked extensively to master the steps.

Queen Mallard will be held on Saturday, November 19, 2011, at the brand new Grand Prairie Center in Stuttgart. I was crowned Junior Queen Mallard in 2000 and the 52nd Queen Mallard in 2007. This title holds a considerable legacy within the Grand Prairie and impressive community support. Queen Mallard presides at the Wings Over the Prairie Festival during the week of Thanksgiving as thousands of visitors come to Stuttgart for the World Championship Duck Calling Contests, Duck Race, Duck Gumbo, and - of course - duck hunting. I am thrilled to share the first performance of my talent piece with my home audience! Hope you can be there to see it!

Photo from 2007 when I was Queen Mallard LII. Yes, Queen Mallard makes a fashion statement in camo as she assists with the World Championship Duck Calling Contests. I thought wearing camo was normal until I went to college.


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