Life as a Former.

It has been two weeks since I passed on my Miss Arkansas crown.  I have made the most of these two weeks by sleeping, reading, painting, watching movies, hanging out with friends, babysitting my niece, swimming, organizing my closet, writing thank you notes, cheering on Team USA, and RELAXING!  After a stressful and extremely busy pageant week, I have been very thankful for this downtime!

 My painting!  I have been asked to enter it in my hometown arts contest, haha!  ;)
 Olympics opening ceremony celebration!

I was given several warnings about post-pageant life.  My grandfather even took me out to lunch last week to make sure I was adjusting well.  He remembers the times when he stepped down from a public office and moved out of the “spotlight” or “influence” of his title.  I appreciate his care because he probably understands how I feel more than anyone besides a former Miss Arkansas. 

But it hasn’t be that bad!  There are many reasons the transition hasn’t been so difficult:
-I will forever relish the memories and blessings of my year as Miss Arkansas!  I    am honored to always be a member of the Miss Arkansas sisterhood!
-I have talked with the new Miss Arkansas Sloane Roberts several times and hope to be an encouragement to her throughout the year. 
-I have several public speaking appearances scheduled for the upcoming year.  I get to continue doing what I love and promoting my platform!
-I consider the biggest blessing of this year to be the relationships I made through the Miss Arkansas Organization!  The friendships will last forever. 

So to all of my faithful blog followers, I hope you continue reading!  I start Pharmacy School at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in one week and will soon be blogging about my white coat ceremony!!!  It will be a challenge to get back to studying day and night, but I am looking forward to the challenge!  However, I don’t plan to forget the lessons I learned this year as Miss Arkansas.  I want to apply the nonprofit skills, management and marketing skills, public speaking skills, and passion for my platform to my next phase of life.  I hope you will join me in the journey!  This pageant girl will soon transform into a science nerd… 

Congrats to all of the Contestants!

I made several comments throughout the week of Miss Arkansas that we had so many quality contestants.  Just to prove what I said, here are some additional thoughts about each of them!  “Congratulations on a great week!  We hope to see you compete again next year or begin to volunteer in the organization!” 

Miss Apple Blossom Molly Jones -  Miss Congeniality!  Molly is the most genuine, tender-hearted young woman with small-town values.  I totally agreed with her winning Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic!  “Also, congratulations on that alpha swimsuit award!”

Miss Arkansas River Kathryn Holcomb - I have never seen a bad side to Kathryn!  She has competed for three years and performed with class and grace each time.  Since this was her last year of eligibility, best of luck to Kathryn and her fiancĂ©!  “I feel honored to have known you through this organization!”

Miss Arkansas State University Chelsea Treadway - I met Chelsea for the first time at the Miss ASU pageant.  I quickly realized how loved she is by observing the overwhelming number of friends who were there to congratulate her.  ASU should be proud of their amiable and respectable representative.  “Great performance at the Miss Arkansas Pageant!”

Miss Arkansas Tech University Claire Hodgson - It didn’t take me long to notice that this gorgeous freshman girl from ATU has loads of potential!  I couldn’t be prouder of Claire for winning the overall alpha interview award!  With Claire’s personality and beauty, I want her to return to the Miss Arkansas stage!

Miss Arkansas Valley Mackenzie Bryant - Mackenzie has a good reputation from her year of hard work as Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen 2010.  She has a lot to offer to the Miss Arkansas Organization, including a warm smile and dedication to excellence.  “Proud of you, Mackenzie!!”

Miss Batesville Norma Lopez - I can’t help but smile when I see Norma.  She attended Te amo mi amiga many preliminaries this year and always encouraged me and the other contestants competing.  Talk about a girl with golden character! “Te amo mi amiga!”

Miss Central Arkansas Erin Larsen- Erin is one of the most outgoing girls in the pageant!  She spent lots of time with us in the suite and always made me laugh!  One of the greatest memories I have of Erin was when I saw her powerfully sing “My Redeemer Lives” at Relay for Life.  She touched so many survivors and volunteers through that performance!

Miss Conway Caitlyn Cook - I have known Caitlyn for several years but really connected with her this year at Miss Arkansas.  She is a very genuine and compassionate young woman.  Oh, and she is a most impressive opera singer!  “Continue to let that light shine, Caitlin!” 

Miss Cotton Belle Mollie Parker - Mollie invited me to the fundraiser for her platform in Jonesboro.  I was blown away by Mollie’s leadership skills, responsibility, and community support.  Her onstage competition was phenomenal… she had to have been second for every alpha award! 

Miss Crowley’s Ridge Ashley Gage - I watched Ashley compete in several preliminaries this year, gaining confidence and experience each time!  She is one of the most beautiful girls, and her heart is even more beautiful.  I am proud to have Ashley in the Miss Arkansas Organization!

Miss Diamond Lakes Abby Turner - Abby has many strengths:  planning, blogging, video documentaries, and making others feel included.  She also has a very strong sense of determination and has worked very hard to promote her platform.  I was very proud of Abby for making the top 10 and being recognized for Service Above Self! 

Miss Frisco Springs Simone Mullinax - I can confidently say that Simone is gorgeous, talented, well-rounded and very deserving of the national title of Miss Sweetheart.  Also, Simone has also become one of my closest friends in the pageant system.  I mean it when I say that I wish her the very BEST! 

Miss Greater Camden Sarah Sutton - When I saw Sarah in her evening gown, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her.  She has the same attractiveness off-stage, and I think it generates from her kind heart and easy personality!  Sarah’s sister competed in Miss Arkansas, and I am SO glad that she encouraged Sarah to compete so we could become friends!

Miss Greater Hot Springs Samantha Hudon - Samantha had a fabulous week!  She had worked very hard to make it to Miss Arkansas, and I was tickled to see her recognized for alpha swimsuit and evening gown.  The Hot Springs community cheered loudly for their outgoing, beautiful, and fun-loving representative!

Miss Greater Jacksonville Maegan Inzer - Maegan is the kind of girl I want to represent the Miss Arkansas Organization.  She is humble and responsible.  After placing in the top 5 during her last year of eligibility, I hope that she remains involved with the organization.  We can really use girls of character to mentor the next generation of contestants!

Miss Greater Jonesboro Bethany Bell - I have never met anyone more articulate or wise for her young age.  Also, she plays the piano like nobody’s business!  I hope she continues to compete for Miss Arkansas, but I know she will be successful in whatever she pursues.

Miss Greater Little Rock Bethany Whitfield - I attended college with Bethany and can honestly say that she was the most respected and admired person on campus.  It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Bethany. Maybe it’s her strong voice, compassion, humility, or how comfortable she is with just being Bethany.   I am so proud of Bethany!

Miss Henderson State University Miranda Johnson - My first impression of Miranda was formed when we shared an appearance in Arkadelphia.  She was so grounded, dependable, beautiful, and likeable.  I wasn’t the only one who felt that way because so many young girls recognized her from the local cheer studio and covered her with hugs!  I really like Miranda!

Miss Johnson County Alisha Sears - Alisha won the annual Peach Festival Pageant, which is a huge honor in Clarksville.  She deservingly represented Clarksville on the Miss Arkansas stage with a strong voice and entertaining performance!  “Congrats on a great week!”

Miss Lake Dardanelle Chelsy Jones - Chelsy worked very hard to compete in the Miss Arkansas pageant, and I cheered for her every time she took the stage!  She made many friends backstage and supported the other contestants.  I admire her inner beauty and hope we remain long-time friends! 

Miss Lakes of the Northwest Rebecca Wheeley -  I am thankful for girls like Rebecca who wear the crown with dignity.  She performed in the Miss Arkansas Court of Honor and competed for several years.  She is a dedicated, passionate young woman who I hope will stick around and volunteer in this organization now that she aged out! 

Miss Lights of the Delta Somer Allen - Somer is probably the biggest witness for Christ that I know.  I admire her trust in the Lord and her desire to love those around her.  I also believe she is one of the best public speakers in the pageant… She has such a genuine quality about her!

Miss Madison County Kayla Williams - I crowned Kayla as the first Miss Madison County!  She is a quiet girl with a sincere heart.  Even though she was one of the youngest girls in the pageant, she did an amazing job all week!

Miss Magnolia Sarah Liz Carter - Talk about a beauty with a brain!  Sarah Liz is very dedicated to school, family, and friends.  She has so much potential, and I believe she can develop those qualities as she competes in the Miss Arkansas Organization!  “Hope to see you next year at Miss Arkansas, and bring your hometown of Norphlet with you again!”

Miss Metro Candace Carr - I met Candace last year when she competed in Miss Arkansas for the first time.  Candace has the perfect mix of confidence and ease.  Maybe it is those big, blue eyes or her onstage presence. but I think she is striking!

Miss North Central Arkansas Hannah Billingsley - I crowned Hannah as Miss Cotton Belle 2011 and have liked her ever since!  She is an absolute blonde bombshell, and her eyes literally sparkle onstage.  Her tender heart and small-town sincerity are captivating. 

Miss Northeast Arkansas Mason Magouyrk - I attended the pageant when Mason won, which was followed by the annual Lights of the Delta hayride.  I remember trying to keep warm, visiting Santa, and enjoying hot chocolate with Mason in that new crown! I was so proud of Mason’s performance this year as a newcomer!  She had to have been second in alpha swimsuit, and I was proud of her entire onstage performance.  

Miss Northwest Arkansas Sarah Gafvert - My first impression of Sarah was, “I have never seen anyone as tall or as beautiful!”  The more I got to know Sarah during the pageant week, the more I was impressed!  She is very smart and mature.  After receiving one of the top newcomer awards this year and top 15, I hope she comes back next year!

Miss Ouachita Baptist University MaryLacey Thomson - MaryLacey also received a newcomer award and represented my alma mater strongly by making the top 15!  She won me over when she turned around in that stunning emerald green dress and sang her talent song effortlessly! 

Miss Ouachita River Rosalyn Taylor - Watch out for Rosalyn!  Even though she aged out of the Miss Arkansas Pageant, I expect great things from this strong, driven young woman.  After serving as the captain of the U of A majorettes, she was comfortable walking around the hotel in a sports bra, and her muscle definition was incredible!

Miss Ozark Highlands Abby Lindsey - Abby was probably my biggest comic relief all week!  She also intentionally encouraged me and made the week fun for everyone around.  I was also proud of her alpha talent award and Service Above Self acknowledgement!  “You have every reason to smile!”

Miss Petit Jean Valley Makenzie Moore -  If you missed Makenzie’s ballet en pointe, then you missed one of the BEST moments of the pageant!  Makenzie has an incredible work ethic and has gone above and beyond to promote her platform and Children’s Miracle Network.  Wow!

Miss Pulaski Dalia Garrison - Dalia was my roommate in 2010 at the Miss Arkansas Pageant.  She is incredibly responsible and a very trustworthy friend.  Even though people recognize Dalia as a talented clogger, most people don’t realize that she choreographs her own dance numbers (and she often changes the choreography as she perfoms).  True talent.

Miss South Arkansas Lauren Howell - All week, Lauren was flawless:  gown, talent, and swimsuit.  This year, Lauren started her own dance studio and has many natural artistic abilities.  She finished in the top 15 this year, but I predict she will be even stronger next year!

Miss South Central Arkansas Jillian Bridges -  Jill is one of those petite girls with a grand voice!  She sang Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy” with attitude, and the other contestants nicknamed her “Jill-once”.   Haha!   After making a strong presence in the Outstanding Teen system, I was tickled to see Jill compete on the Miss Arkansas stage! 

Miss Southeast Arkansas Mary Ellen Hunthrop - I still hear people talking about how beautiful Mary Ellen was in that eggplant long-sleeve evening gown!  Mary Ellen worked so hard to make it to Miss Arkansas, and I was just as excited as she was when her name was called for alpha evening gown!  “Proud of you, girl!”

Miss Southern Arkansas University Kristen Lambert - University pageants are the most fun, and Kristen’s crowning was no different!  She always participated and volunteered for the Miss Arkansas Organization whenever possible, making her an outstanding representative for her university!  “Well done!”

Miss Spirit of Arkansas Amber Gross - Amber spent the spring semester in New York and postponed nursing school so she could compete in Miss Arkansas.  She is the epitome of a “big dreamer” and works hard to achieve those dreams.  I was especially impressed with how she gracefully handled a costume malfunction during talent.  It was an example of her unfaltering character!

Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas Brooke Ault - Brooke sang “Maybe This Time” for talent, and she was right!  She captured the Coleman Dairy Overall Talent Award and was the only newcomer announced to the top 10.  Arkansas is itching to have that voice and fresh energy back onstage next year!

Miss Texarkana Lauren Price - I was instantly drawn to Lauren’s sweet spirit when we met at a preliminary pageant this year. Lauren’s headshot was one of my favorites, and I believe she is just as beautiful on the inside!  “Congratulations on your recent engagement!”

Miss Three Rivers Courtney Welsh - Another blonde bombshell!  Courtney competed in teen last year but amazed the Miss Arkansas judges this year with her swimsuit figure!  “Congrats on alpha swimsuit and a successful pageant week as a newcomer!”

Miss University of Arkansas Tracy Neal - Tracy is one of those girls I love more and more each time we talk!  With a top 10 finish, she is very consistent in every phase of competition and has the self-motivation to succeed.  She teaches dance in Fayetteville, and her girls obviously look up to her!

Miss University of Arkansas Fort Smith Savannah Valentine - I knew Savannah was going to win her preliminary pageant when she walked across the stage with confidence and joy!  Miss UAFS has a strong presence in Fort Smith, and she has done so much to promote the Miss Arkansas Organization!  I am impressed!

Miss University of Central Arkansas Morgan Holt - No doubt… Morgan is gorgeous!  When she handled one of the most difficult onstage questions and started her jazz dance with an aerial, she earned her spot as 1st Runner Up!  What I like most about Morgan is that she competes with herself.  She truly wishes the best for others and pushes herself to perform well!  “Very admirable!”

Miss Western Arkansas Alex Farmer -  Alex landed a picture on the front page of the Hot Springs Sentinel newspaper after her shocking speed-painting for talent!  I would have LOVED to see it again along with that rock-star dress.  With a mother in the pageant dress business, you can expect Alex to be the best dressed onstage!

Miss White River Helen Wisner - Helen has everything it takes to be a famous model!  Her body is flawless and her beauty is so natural!  Not only did she make the top 15 and win swimsuit preliminary, but she is probably one of the most gracious girls competing.  I am thankful to have met Helen!

Miss Arkansas 2012 Sloane Roberts - I don’t think anyone in the state of Arkansas doubted that Sloane would one day be Miss Arkansas.  However, she did surprise many when she captured the crown at the young age of 19.  Sloane’s greatest strengths are her determination and drive.  She pushes herself to be the best, and I predict she will be one of the best Miss Arkansas titleholders.  She also has a natural ability to win over people.  For example, the entire town of Rison came to Hot Springs to cheer her on at the Miss Arkansas Pageant.  She is extremely talented (2011 Coleman Dairy Overall Talent Winner) and will definitely leave her mark on the state of Arkansas!  I fully support and congratulate Sloane as our Miss Arkansas!

Finals of the 2012 Miss Arkansas Pageant- Part 5

Saturday was quite difficult.  I couldn’t even explain my feelings, but I was constantly on the verge of getting emotional.  The end of my year was becoming a reality.  I just wanted the next Miss Arkansas to LOVE her job since I knew what expectations, difficulties, and joys come with the title of Miss Arkansas!

I started the day with a 6:00 a.m. interview on THV Channel 11.  After a little breakfast, I headed to rehearsals to prepare for the final night of competition.  It took quite some time to organize all of the dresses I had backstage that I had worn during the week. There were probably 40 dresses from 9 different dress sponsors.  Thankfully, I had my own dressing room to store all of  those dresses!  We also spent a while discussing the differences in script for the finals.  In order for me to survive the week of Miss Arkansas, many details demanded my attention! 

Mid-morning, I met with the 69 princesses and 1 prince to practice our “Single Ladies” production number for Saturday night. That number required a lot of preparation and leadership, but I hadn't anticipated the rewards I would receive from working with those princesses!  They absolutely loved the dance and considered it the greatest thing in the world to perform with Miss Arkansas!  They constantly showered me with compliments and crowded me with hugs!  When practice was over, one of the little girls gave me a pink silly band bracelet in the shape of a crown!  I have not taken the bracelet off yet! 

Saturday night performance

Around noon, the contestants and I headed to the Hot Springs Mall for an autograph party.  I signed autographs and took pictures for an hour, while my parents were a little teary-eyed in the back.  Fully aware that was my last “appearance” as Miss Arkansas, they realized they will miss it as much as I will.  Thankfully, I was too busy to get sentimental! 

Then, it was time to return my Miss Arkansas car to Allen Tillery Chevrolet.  They provided a wonderful Buick Regal for me to drive this year, and I made several new friends each time I went for an oil change!   I would like to give a special thank-you to Allen Tillery Chevrolet for their help during the past year!   Bale Chevrolet is the new car sponsor for Miss Arkansas and is providing a wonderful vehicle for Miss Arkansas to use this year .

Saturday afternoon, I collapsed for a quick nap before hair and make-up appointments.  Robin and I attended a reception before the pageant for Miss Arkansas board members and former Miss Arkansas titleholders.  My parents were also in attendance, and I couldn’t help but cry when I saw them!  Thankfully, Miss Arkansas 1994 Beth Anne Rankin was there to encourage me!  She talked about how my work with my platform and public speaking could continue indefinitely.  She also reminded me that every former in the room could relate to my experiences as Miss Arkansas more than anyone else!  I was so thankful to be there with my Miss Arkansas sisters!

As we were leaving the reception, a tourist duck boat was driving through downtown Hot Springs, and the tour guide started singing, “There she is…” We started laughing, and Miss Arkansas 1998 Erin Wheatley Parker turned to say, “Soak in every last moment.”  It was very appropriate advice! 

Starting at 6:30 p.m., several Coleman Dairy Talent Winners performed during the pre-show in memory of Buddy Coleman.  Those performing included Beth Anne Rankin, who won the award twice with a piano performance to “Battle Hymn of the Republic”.  Erin Wheatley Parker performed her vocal and tap dance to “I Got Rhythm.”  Evangeline Parker and Holly Ruth Gale also gave vocal performances.

Right before the show started, I had to fight back tears again.  I had only a few more precious hours as Miss Arkansas.  I bit my lip and started walking toward the stage when I heard all of the princesses excitedly greeting me, “Miss Arkansas, Miss Arkansas!”  They were all so complimentary and thrilled to see me!  I found Renee Fronabarger rather quickly and just let the tears roll.  She helped me pull it all together, and I made it through the whole night without any more tears (or at least until my farewell)!
Nay Nay- head chaperone and head comforter! 

Congratulations to the girls announced to the Top 10: Miss Ouachita River Rosalyn Taylor, Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas Brooke Ault, Miss University of Arkansas Tracy Neal, Miss Frisco Springs Simone Mullinax, Miss Heart of the Ozarks Sloane Roberts, Miss Diamond Lakes Abby Turner, Miss Greater Little Rock Bethany Whitfield, Miss University of Central Arkansas Morgan Holt, Miss Greater Jacksonville Maegan Inzer, and Miss Lights of the Delta Somer Allen.
Photo by You've Got the Look Photography!

The Top 10 were asked questions via video from Arkansas celebrities, including Governor Mike Beebe and ASU head football coach Gus Malzahn.  It was really neat.  The performance with the princesses received a huge applause from the audience!  After intermission, I danced to “I Got Rhythm” and said my final thank-yous.  I received a beautiful coronation ring from the Royal We and Sissy’s Log Cabin!  The Royal We and Clark's Bridal (they have a partnership) have been huge sponsors of the Miss Arkansas pageant and also sponsored the opening number dresses.  I was happy to honor them by wearing all of their dresses on Saturday night!  Here is the beautiful ring! 

 Also, I announced two very special awards: Volunteer of the Year and Woman of the Year. 

Congratulations to the 2012 Volunteer of the Year, LoraNelle Humphrey!

Congratulations to the 2012 Woman of the Year, Micki Petrus Konecny! 

I am so proud of the scholarships that the Miss Arkansas Organization and Foundation gave to the contestants.  We handed out over $88,000 in cash scholarships and even more in-kind sponsorships!  Miss Arkansas received a $20,000 scholarship thanks to the Ted and Shannon Skokos Foundation. It is the largest prize package for a state titleholder in the Miss America Organization.  Special for the 75th Anniversary year, we also awarded a minimum of $250 to each contestant competing (click here for a complete list of the awards).  I am honored to be a part of this life-changing organization!

Congratulations to Sloane Roberts for being crowned Miss Arkansas 2012 as Miss Heart of the Ozarks and for winning overall interview and overall swimsuit!  Congrats to Miss University of Central Arkansas Morgan Holt for winning overall evening gown!  Congrats to Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas Brooke Ault for the prestigious Coleman Dairy Award for winning overall talent!  Here are the top 5:

 3RU Rosalyn Taylor, 1RU Morgan Holt, me, Miss Arkansas 2012 Sloane Roberts, 2RU Bethany Whitfield, 4RU Maegan Inzer

All runners-up were new to the top 5, but Sloane had placed 4th runner up last year while capturing the Coleman Dairy overall talent award.  Bethany, Rosalyn, and Maegan will all age out of the Miss Arkansas Pageant.  Morgan Holt will qualify for the National Sweetheart Pageant, but it has not yet been announced if she will be attending.  More to come about the contestants… Congratulations on a great year!

Miss Arkansas Pageant Week- Part 4

Friday morning was the earliest morning!  When I heard that Alyse Eady (Miss Arkansas 2010 and THV morning anchor) had scheduled two interviews with me starting at 5:00 a.m, I knew I would have to talk to her about that!  Thankfully, I made it on time and even got a nap in after the interviews!  I don't know how she does that early morning show each day!

  Alyse conducted the interviews in different settings, including the stage, the silent auction area, dressing rooms, and the 75th Anniversary Hall of Fame!  I was especially impressed with the Hall of Fame, where Jane Slocum and Bill Tarkington had organized a display featuring dozens of portraits and winning gowns of previous Miss Arkansas titleholders.  What an honor to be a part of the sisterhood and have my winning dress on display, as well! 

I ate lunch with the production crew and discussed the Friday night show. It is amazing how much goes into running the Miss Arkansas pageant.  Stacy Jones from Fort Smith does an excellent job as producer, while Micki Konency from Stuttgart is the choreographer.  We also have SMART productions from Texas running sound, and JC Productions runs video.  And don’t forget, there are numerous volunteers backstage and in the dressing room.  Wow!  

After lunch, I was excited to see the Studio Allegro Dance Team, dressed in matching tanks, ready to rehearse!  I danced on the Studio Allegro competition team under Micki Konency for 10 years and was thrilled to share the Miss Arkansas stage with them on Friday night!  We performed a high-energy tap dance, complete with black lights and neon lights, to “Party Rock”!  That night, I was so proud of those girls for the way they energized the audience and stole the show!  

In addition to rehearsal, other events were scheduled for Friday afternoon!  The Miss Arkansas board facilitated an hour-long meeting with the Miss Arkansas panel of judges for contestants' parents and executive directors.  The judges began by telling what they look for in a state titleholder.  Then, they allowed the audience to ask questions.  In brief, the judges emphasized the following:
·                Competition line-up does not affect the judges’ scores. 
·                A good interview is one that leaves the judges wanting to know about that girl.
·                Because Miss Arkansas is a well-established, full-time job position, it is most important for judges to choose a girl committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of Miss Arkansas. 

After the judges meeting, the Miss Arkansas board members held a closed meeting with the executive directors of local preliminary pageants.  I asked to attend the meeting and speak to the directors.  I greatly appreciate the volunteer work that directors give to the system and wanted to speak on behalf of the next Miss Arkansas.  I stressed the importance of Miss Arkansas supporting local pageants and local pageants supporting Miss Arkansas.  When we work to support each other, the entire Miss Arkansas Organization benefits.  Thanks to CITGO providing her a $10,000 gas allowance, Miss Arkansas should be able to do more around the state of Arkansas for a smaller contract fee!  I encouraged the directors to take advantage of that opportunity and build the Miss Arkansas program! 

The Friday night show was another great night!  I enjoyed my “Party Rock” performance with Studio Allegro and received many compliments on my gowns from Tony Bowls and Venue!  I enjoyed watching talent and evening gown but was surprised during the swimsuit production number.  That night, I decided to ask one of the judges to dance and just so happened to pick the one who REALLY knows how to dance!  He spun me around and dipped me so fast that I almost lost my crown!  I think the audience realized that I asked for more than I could handle while wearing those high heels and a crown! 
 One of my Tony Bowls dresses from Venue!

Congratulations to the Friday night alpha award winners!
Miss Northwest Arkansas Sarah Gafvert
Miss Apple Blossom Molly Jones
Miss Ozark Highlands Abby Lindsey

Photos by You’ve Got the Look Photography! 
Congratulations to the Friday night preliminary winners!
Miss Greater Jacksonville Maegan Inzer
Miss Heart of the Ozarks Sloane Roberts
Miss Northwest Arkansas Sarah Gafvert

Visitation on Friday night was definitely the busiest!  I was especially happy to see my brother Mark, sister-in-law Brooke, and my precious niece Addison!  We did the best we could to get a family photo… 
 Almost a good picture!
 my extended family!
 One of my favorites- Miss Arkansas 2008 Ashlen Batson Thomason!

I also looked forward to the post-pageant party for the contestants because I knew we had cheese dip and salsa waiting for us in the suite.  Several of the contestants stayed late to talk and laugh!  I got tickled when my chaperone Robin asked the girls if they had seen a few of her favorite commercials.  All of the girls shook their heads, which prompted Robin to say, “What do you girls do with your time?”  Chelsy Jones spoke up, “Ask me about health care!”  Haha! It was priceless! 

Miss Arkansas Pageant Week- Part 3!

Thursday morning, I joined Alyson Courtney for a 6:00 a.m. interview on KATV Channel 7’s Good Morning Arkansas!  After I spoke about the pageant week, she interviewed the preliminary winners of Wednesday’s onstage competition.  She actually gave them a pop quiz on Arkansas trivia, and I think they did pretty well considering the early hour! 
We then hopped into my Miss Arkansas car and met Dick Antoine at his radio studio, where he had been promoting the pageant throughout the week.  On Wednesday, he had  interviewed Patti Thorn Lusk, Miss Arkansas 1988 and one of this year's Miss Arkansas judges.  He has been a long-time supporter of the Miss Arkansas pageant and even wrote an onstage question, “Do you vote for the party or the person?”  This year, the onstage questions were collected from recognizable media and public figures within the state of Arkansas.   Adding a new element to the pageant, the questions were relevant and thought-provoking!  
Thursday was a very special day for me!  After the production meeting during lunch, I was walking to my dressing room when I saw my college roommates enter the auditorium!  I had asked Leslyn to play the piano while I danced, but I was surprised to see that she brought Lauren and Whitney with her!  As we practiced onstage, Lauren and Whitney unsuccessfully tried to win Miss Arkansas Pageant tickets from the Miss Arkansas Twitter account.  I appreciated their presence so very much! 

As Leslyn accompanied her on the piano, Ashton Campbell sang “Tiny Dancer” by Elton John.  My dance teacher, Micki Konency, choreographed a lyrical number that symbolized my dancing throughout the years.  Connley Coker was the little ballerina and was absolutely precious as the first dancer out.  Next, my princess Riley Stephens danced, and then Charlsi Konency danced as the teenager.  When I came out on stage, I danced for several 8-counts before Micki joined me onstage.  We kept it a huge secret that she would be dancing with me, but I am so glad that she did!  It was a very meaningful moment!

After my performance each night, I joined my parents on the couch on the front row to watch the talent and evening gown competitions!  We absolutely loved our couch and will miss those seats next year!  Each evening, I  invited someone from the audience to dance with me during one of our production numbers.  On Thursday, I asked a dear friend and long-time supporter of the pageant, Jay Bednar!  Jay is the kindest young man who wears all the support buttons for the contestants and Miss Arkansas.  He giggled and smiled so big as we twirled onstage.  Later, many people complimented him on his dancing skills, and everyone could see that it was a great moment in his life!  

Congrats to the Thursday night alpha winners! 

Miss Northwest Arkansas Sarah Gafvert
Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas Brooke Ault
Miss Greater Hot Springs Samantha Hudon

Photos by You've Got the Look Photography!
Congrats to the Thursday night preliminary winners!

Miss Sweetheart of Arkansas Brooke Ault
Miss University of Central Arkansas Morgan Holt
Miss Greater Little Rock Bethany Whitfield
Miss Northwest Arkansas Sarah Gafvert

After the pageant, I was eager to see everyone at visitation!  
Whitney, Lauren, me, Leslyn, and DJ
When visitation was over, I was starving and really looking forward to the contestants' post-pageant party in our suite!  Thankfully, Mrs. June Felix (Miss Arkansas board member and very generous volunteer) provided pizza for all of the girls.  It tasted delicious, especially at 11:00 p.m!  

Pageant Week 2012- Part 2

Tuesday, we finished interviews and rehearsal.  I had most of the evening off and spent the time hanging out with the contestants in the suite.  From what I hear, the interviews were focused on current events and Miss Arkansas job-related questions. I think we have a great panel of judges, and they are dedicated to choosing a phenomenal Miss Arkansas!

Rehearsals on Tuesday!

Wednesday morning, the emotions hit.  I woke up early for a radio interview and started tearing up while I was putting on my make-up.  It is funny how emotions surprise you at unexpected times.  I just started thinking about how many girls compete for the title of Miss Arkansas and have every quality needed to be Miss Arkansas.  However, there is only one crown.  I am so blessed that the judges last year gave me this opportunity.  The title and job of Miss Arkansas has been the greatest blessing!

Wednesday morning, I headed to my dressing room to prepare for the evening's preliminary.  With my dresses for pageant week coming from nine different sponsors, it took a while to organize the dress line-up.  To be sure I recognized their generosity onstage, we then made out the list of thank-yous for me to say each night.  We are fortunate to have so many businesses helping make our pageant successful!

Carol Martin and CJ Wilson are long time volunteers with the Miss Arkansas pageant!  Couldn't do it without them!  

At lunch, our destination was the Arlington Hotel for the downtown Hot Springs Rotary Club meeting.  Miss Arkansas has been the keynote speaker for many years during the week of Miss Arkansas.  For the first time, the contestants were also invited to eat lunch and attend the meeting.  I spoke about the benefits of competing in Miss Arkansas and also about my platform on mentoring.  I didn’t expect this speech to be as difficult as it was.  I had to choke back the tears as I was talking about the blessing of being Miss Arkansas.  Then, I got started on my mentoring stories and struggled to get the words out.  I was standing in front, looking at the contestants’ faces knowing that someone will be following in my footsteps very soon!  I hope to mentor the next Miss Arkansas so that she may have the best year possible!  

Wednesday night was the first night of onstage competition!  The opening number is full of energy and cool lighting effects, along with a 30-second dress change for Miss Arkansas!  Talk about a fast change!  I performed my Miss America tap dance to a remix of Mozart’s piano sonata #11.  Thanks to the Marley floor, the stage is perfect for dancers!  It was so much fun to perform!

Overall, the show was great!   Alpha awards are given to newcomers to the Miss Arkansas Pageant.  Congratulations to the Wednesday night alpha winners:

Miss Greater Hot Springs Samantha Hudon - alpha swimsuit tie
Miss Three Rivers Courtney Welsh - alpha swimsuit tie
Miss Southeast Arkansas Mary Ellen Hunthrop - alpha evening gown
Miss Ouachita Baptist University MaryLacey Thomson - alpha talent

Congratulations to the Wednesday night preliminary winners:

Miss Greater Little Rock Bethany Whitfield - talent
Miss White River Helen Wizer - swimsuit
Miss U of A Tracy Neal - evening gown tie
Miss South Arkansas Lauren Howell - evening gown tie
Miss Heart of the Ozarks Sloane Roberts - evening gown tie

After the pageant each night, we have visitation for all of the contestants to see their friends and family! I always look forward to visitation, even as Miss Arkansas!

When the whistle blows, the contestants are to report back to the chaperones and visitation is over.  Since most of the girls eat little or no dinner, we have a party after preliminary competition each night in the contestant's suite!  This is always a fun time!