I have the greatest family in the world! They helped me move into the Austin Hotel in Hot Springs… which was no easy task! We loaded all of the bags into my car and all of the evening gowns into my mom’s Tahoe. When we made it to the Austin, the staff helped us get all of my items up to my room in three trips! Afterward, we celebrated at Central Park Fusion Cuisine. Delicious!
Sunday was exhilarating! I have been preparing for this pageant week for months but still couldn’t have totally prepared for Sunday! After fast make-up and hair appointments, I jumped into my dress from Hot Springs Dillard’s (sponsor of Miss Arkansas). I then attended a meeting with the Miss Arkansas board members, welcomed the contestants, and attended the princess pre-arrival ceremony. The day had only begun!
June Felix and the Miss Arkansas board members moved this year's arrival ceremony to Horner Hall for a spectacular event! The room was decorated elegantly with red roses and portraits of former Miss Arkansas titleholders around the perimeter. The ceremony began with a presentation to the Miss Arkansas Organization in honor of our 75th Anniversary! Then, Terry Wallace introduced each contestant as she strutted down the red carpet! It was definitely an event characterized by sophistication!
Then, we announced the top five fundraisers for Children’s Miracle Network! Greeted by 2012 Arkansas CMN ambassador, Brett, all five contestants are now eligible for the CMN Miracle Maker Award. Those contestants include Miss North Central Arkansas Hannah Billingsley, Miss Apple Blossom Molly Jones, Miss University of Arkansas Tracy Neal, Miss Northwest Arkansas Sarah Gafvert, and Miss Central Arkansas Erin Larsen!
After arrival pictures, we recorded short videos for Good Morning Arkansas on Channel 7. Make sure you watch Good Morning Arkansas as they will be promoting the Miss Arkansas Pageant all week! We will also have THV and KARK at the pageant later in the week.
After all these events concluded within a few hours, I ran my fingers through my hair and found a small clip that Jane White had used to move my bangs out of my face while doing my make up. The day was so hectic that I didn’t even remember to take it out! I wore that clip through the entire arrival ceremony, but thankfully it was black and didn’t show up in any of the pictures. Haha, oh my goodness.
Next on the schedule was the princess party entitled, “Bling On!” Can you imagine 69 princesses in rhinestone tops, shorts, dresses, hair bows, and shoes? We also have one prince, but I don’t think he wore any rhinestones. Thank you to Suzanne Butler and the princess committee for preparing games, dinner, cupcakes, door prizes, and dances for the little ones! I am excited to perform with the group on Saturday night to “Single Ladies.” Trust me, you are going to LOVE it!
I then met up with the contestants for the annual t-shirt photos! We take a group photo in every t-shirt given by our sponsors. It takes a while, but it's really fun. Finally, it was dinner time, and I was famished! Next, the chaperones, executive director Jessie Ward Bennett, and the office manager Vicki Rima led an orientation for the contestants.
Finally… it was MY turn! Miss Arkansas gives the notorious “good, bad, ugly speech” on Sunday night where she explains the good, bad, and ugly aspects of the job as Miss Arkansas. No one else is in the room while this speech occurs, and the contestants are encouraged to ask any and every question! I have attended four of these meetings over the years and was so pleased with our meeting this year! I spoke for some time but spent most of the time answering probably 50 questions! I was so impressed with this group of contestants! They asked very thought-provoking, caring questions and truly wanted to learn about the job responsibilities! I am so proud of the girls competing, and I know we will soon crown a great Miss Arkansas!
Monday started with breakfast at 6:30 am. We then headed to rehearsals and started working on the opening number. With a 50' runway and a screen that covers the backdrop, this is going to be the best show I have ever seen on the Miss Arkansas stage!
Jessie Ward Bennett (Executive Director), Nay Nay (Head Chaperone), and me!
Rosalyn lost her voice so she made note cards! haha, she is now better just in time for interview!
Hanging out in the contestant suite!!
Check out the video blog byMiss Diamond Lakes Abby Turner from today’s rehearsal:
We finished the afternoon rehearsal and headed back to the hotel. The Austin does an incredible job of hosting all of the contestants and pageant staff. The contestants are sequestered on certain floors, and a designated suite is open to all of the contestants so we can hang out during meals and free time. Tonight, several of the girls congregated in the suite to watch the Bachelorette! This week is so much fun!
Interviews for Group A started tonight and Groups B and C will interview tomorrow. I have seen lots of girls walking around with “pageant binders” full of interview notes. I also stopped by the hair and make-up room and saw many of the contestants before interview… they all looked beautiful!
I can’t wait for onstage competition to begin!