I thought this week would be fun, but I had NO idea that I would have this much fun!! The Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant will go down in the books as one of the highlights of my year!
Tuesday, I picked up Sydney Friar (Miss Missouri 2011) and Jennifer Sedler (Miss Arizona 2011) from the Little Rock Airport. They competed with me in Las Vegas and I always admired their dedication to the Miss America Organization. I was especially excited when they agreed to judge Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant! That night, we headed to dinner to meet the other judges: Kristin Freeman Wood, Paul Crews, and Tara Perry.
Sydney, Tara, Jennifer, me, Kristin, and Paul
Jennifer, Sydney, and I had so much fun catching up and reminiscing about our Miss America experience. However, I didn’t realize how good it felt to discuss the blessings and hardships of my year with girls who know exactly how it feels! It was the best therapy! I’m so thankful for the time I got to spend with girls who I admire so much, and I miss them already!
The arrival ceremony kicked off the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant on Wednesday. I was excited to wear an adorable Betsy Johnson dress from A Formal Affair in Batesville! During the ceremony, Ashton and I posed for a picture with each of the 36 contestants after she crowned her Diamond State Prince or Princesses. The princess program is a mentoring opportunity for young girls to shadow the contestants throughout the pageant week. The arrival ceremony and princess program were a great success!
Group A interviews started on Wednesday afternoon, and I headed to rehearsal. Frank Byers directed the production and put on a fabulous show! The court of honor and production crew worked tirelessly from Wednesday to Saturday night to smooth out the kinks. Thomas Collins is the Executive Director and led the board of directors to continue the quality and success of the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Organization! As always, I was so impressed!
Picture with Laura Leigh before the winning interview!
Suzanna and I headed to rehearsals!
Before the princess party!
Jennifer, Sydney, me, Paul, Patty Tackett, Tara, and Kristin
Thursday morning, Ashton traveled Little Rock for an interview on THV with former Miss Arkansas Alyse Eady. Check out the interview here: (http://www.todaysthv.com/news/article/216113/2/Miss-Arkansas-Outstanding-Teen-program).
I went to rehearsals while group B started their interviews. While I watched the girls practice, I was surprised to get choked up. I saw a few of the girls onstage who I have been watching for several years and realized how much they have grown. I thought about how much the Miss Arkansas Organization has been a part of my life and how much I will miss it. The title of Miss Arkansas has been the greatest blessing!
The show started on Thursday night! I performed each night and helped backstage with the production crew. I was thankful to be wearing gorgeous Tony Bowls dresses sponsored by Tommy Lyons and Venue! The emcee Katie Bailey-Harris also wore Venue dresses throughout the entire week! Congratulations to the preliminary winners:
Sydney, me, and Jennifer before the show!
Miss Greater Camden OT Haley Bird (newcomer talent) and Miss Heart of the Ozarks OT Elle Johnson (newcomer active wear and newcomer evening gown)
Miss Diamond Lakes OT Laura Leigh Turner (active wear and evening gown) and Miss Metro OT Rachel Harless (talent)
Having a sister queen like Ashton Campbell was a huge blessing! With a smile on her face, she worked hard the whole week! I was so impressed with her performances and heart for the contestants. Also, I loved spending time with Ashton’s family this week. On Friday, I invited Ashton’s little brother to my parent’s condo for fishing and swimming! Throughout the week, her parents and grandparents supported me like I was in the family! I can’t say enough about the Campbells!
After rehearsals on Friday, I was excited about the pool party at John and Missy Gibson’s house! Every year, they host the contestants and volunteers for lunch and fun. They have a beautiful home on Lake Hamilton with a breathtaking infinity pool. I hopped in with the girls, and we splashed our way through the afternoon!
Me and Thomas Collins, Executive Director of Miss Arkansas OT
Missy and Bailey Gibson
Friday night was another great show! I was thrilled to wear gowns sponsored by Laine Berry of The Royal We and Shelley Kelley of Clark’s Bridal. As I thanked these sponsors onstage, I also shared a thank you from Sydney Friar Miss Missouri since Clark’s Bridal also sponsored her evening gown at Miss America. Congrats to our winners!
Elle, Jaycie, Raygan, and Kate before the show!
Anna Claire, Ebony, Emily, me, Lacey, and Kelli backstage!
Miss Diamond Lakes OT Laura Leigh Turner (talent), Miss Little Rock OT Bailey Moses (active wear), Miss Lights of the Delta OT Kelli Collins (evening gown), Miss Heart of the Ozarks OT Elle Johnson (newcomer talent), Miss Texarkana OT Kyl’Lee Colvin (newcomer evening gown), Miss Greater Camden OT Haley Bird (newcomer active wear)
Saturday, I enjoyed lunch with the judges, prior to Ashton’s ice cream party. The event was sponsored by Venue and allowed for one last celebration of Ashton’s incredible year of service. She has made 129 appearances as Miss Arkansas’ OT and landed several modeling opportunities, including the cover of Fourpoints magazine. She has been an amazing representative for the organization!
Several Miss Arkansas contestants volunteered to serve ice cream!
At the ice cream party, a few of the judges took the opportunity to encourage the contestants. I actually asked Jennifer and Sydney to write some of their words of encouragement for me to share on my blog:
“Outstanding, and it has been no easy job. These truly are outstanding young women, who will make wonderful leaders of tomorrow. I could spend days complimenting these young women on their talent, intellect, and character. Instead, know this, any one of these ladies would represent the state beautifully, but only one can wear he crown. So, to the rest of you, remember that you are only able to see one small piece of the puzzle that is your life. The only one who knows the whole story is our heavenly Father, and He knows what is absolutely best for you. If you trust Him and follow Him, together you can paint the best picture possible for your life. His timing is perfect. Never doubt that. In whatever position you find yourself at the end of this competition just know that is exactly where you are supposed to be. Each of you will go far, and I have so enjoyed witnessing this piece of your journey in life. God Bless!”
Love, Sydney Friar Miss Missouri 2011
“Let me start off by saying that you truly all blew me away all week. Now that a girl has been crowned, I understand that you may be feeling like your hard work and opportunity has been lost. Let me reassure you that anyone who chooses to, can spend their life in devotion to improving and changing their state, and taking action in everything you believe MAOT should be. If you have the strength to take those values that you think a MAOT should have, and carry them out in your own community and wherever you go in life, you can carry out the duties of MAOT without the crown. It doesn’t matter if you are a national, state, or local titleholder, a teenager, a grown woman, a businessman, a student, or anyone else, the distinction that encompasses the crown is available to all people who are willing to reach and work for it. It’s been said that life is like a coloring book, and we must be bold enough and daring enough to color outside of the lines. But if you want to accomplish your dreams, here’s my advice: throw away the coloring book and get a blank piece of paper where no lines have been drawn. There is no mold that you have to fit into in order to succeed, no pre-set outline that will guide you on your pathway to a brilliant drawing. The most successful people are those who are not afraid of the white blank page, and who are not scared to put away the erasers and pull out the permanent pens and make their mark on the world with their own everlasting stroke. You must decide that you want it more than boundaries, more than work, more than fear. If you want to be a leader, then be. To some of the most beautiful leaders I’ve ever met, congratulations and best of luck to you all.”
xoxo Jennifer Sedler, Miss Arizona 2011
Sydney, me, and Jennifer
Saturday night was a sold-out show! The contestants had pre-recorded a vocal performance to “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson, which made a phenomenal opening number! Once the emcee Katie Bailey-Harris received the envelope, she announced the top 15 contestants.
After the top 15 girls appeared in active wear, Katie announced the top 10, who then moved into the talent phase.
We did a little something different during talent. Frank set up a backdrop backstage for me to interview some of the non-finalist contestants between performances. It gave the judges a break during talent and provided the audience with some comic relief. For example, Miss South Arkansas OT Kate Johnson gave a hilarious commentary on our judges and shared encouragement for the girls in the top 10. It was a big hit!
Cori, Kate, Jasa, me, and Emily
All of the dresses I wore on Saturday night came from Bella’s Backroom in Springdale. I wanted to honor Amanda Farmer, owner of Bella’s Gifts, since she has been one of my biggest supporters this year! Thank you, Amanda, for all that you give to the Miss Arkansas Organization!
During evening gown, each contestant were escorted by someone significant in her life… a dad, brother, grandfather, or mentor. The onstage questions were chosen from Twitter, but the last question was a surprise. Colton Dixon, Top 7 contestant in American Idol, recorded the question, “What are your life goals and how do you plan to achieve them?” The night kept getting better!
After I performed my Miss America dance, Ashton gave her farewell address and a last song. She sang, “I Will Always Love You” with the band and blew the roof off of the auditorium! Undoubtedly, Ashton will be remembered for her hard work ethic, genuine spirit, and powerful voice!
Then… the announcement of the awards! Check the website for a complete list of the awards (http://www.missarkansasot.org/2012.htm). In summary, Miss Diamond Lakes Laura Leigh Turner won everything. Literally, she won overall interview, overall talent, overall evening gown, and overall active wear! She worked very hard for the crown and will do an amazing job representing us at the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in August! Along with the crown, she won over $5,000 in scholarships! Congratulations to all of the girls in the top 5! So proud of you!
Me, Bailey Moses (3RU), Elle Johnson (1RU and congeniality), Miss Arkansas’ OT 2012 Laura Leigh Turner, Raygan Sylvester (2RU), Rachel Harless (4RU), Miss Arkansas’ OT 2011 Ashton Campbell
Me, Miss Arkansas’ OT 2012 Laura Leigh Turner, Miss Arkansas’ OT 2011 Ashton Campbell