Being Miss Maumee Valley

Monday, January 16, 2006

Miss Southeastern Ohio in Review

First and foremost, congratulations again to Jenna Wilson, the new Miss Southeastern Ohio [seen with me on the left.] I apologize that between the first week of classes and so many Miss America things to blog about, it’s taken me this long to get to a narrative post about Miss SEO. Here it finally is… (This is a long one, but make sure to check out the story’s conclusion in the post below.)

Though my parents were worn out from the holidays, I convinced them to attend, with excitement about Miss America 2000, Heather French Henry, Johnny Porrazzo and strategically leaving out the fact that there were twenty contestants! We met in Wapak and continued together on to Zanesville where we were met with a pageant first- a line to get in [seen below; click to enlarge]! It was impressive and exciting, but also rather cold. Once inside the
Secrest Auditorium we selected seats in the balcony and marveled at the full house below us. Rumor has it over 1,400 tickets were sold. That is quite impressive, considering most local pageants probably average fifty to a hundred.

The only other local program that I have seen with such an audience is Miss Lake Festival. The numeric success of these two programs is simple, they’re both closed and have access to huge facilities in which to hold their pageants. “Closed” means only women from certain counties can compete; the result is greater community support in the form of attendance and donations. Between the size of the auditorium and audience, well crafted set, caliber of entertainers, number of contestants and former Miss America as emcee, I felt like I was finally getting to watch Miss Ohio! Johnny Porrazzo was Miss Ohio’s emcee my first three years and it was great to see him onstage again. E.D. Vicki LeVeck performed with the Solid Gold Singers and her husband Andy joined Johnny for some fun dueling pianos and a few other songs.

The highlight, of course, was Miss America 2000, Heather French Henry. She and Johnny had wonderful chemistry as co-emcees and how wonderful for Jenna to be crowned by a Miss America! Speaking of Jenna, all twenty contestants were wonderful. My parents and I were a bit concerned because such a high number at local pageants makes for slow, long nights, but thankfully that was not the case. Instead, the contestants were split into two flights and the phases of competition were staggered. As an introduction, all twenty presented Casual Wear, but then only ten in the “Stars Flight” competed in Swimsuit, followed by ten talents from the “Stripes Flight.” Then the Stars Flight competed in Evening Gown, and next came the Stripes flight again in something else… Essentially each phase of competition (except Casual Wear) was seen twice, which you might think would make it take longer, but everything moved much faster because there were only ten of each at a time (believe me, by the eighteenth or nineteenth consecutive talent or onstage question in any pageant, any audience will be restless!) Also, I am certain this gave the contestants more time between phases of competition, which meant less entertainment was needed, so it seemed like the contestants were onstage more, of which audiences always complain they want more.

The only downside was that it got a tad confusing, when a new phase began, I didn’t know who to expect onstage next. I guess the talent of keeping flights straight in my mind is one I’ll pick up after this, my final year at Miss Ohio, when I am an audience member. Titleholders were send complimentary tickets, which is so nice, because often we arrive at locals unsure if we’ll have to pay. We were also asked to wear our crowns and come onstage after the crowning for photos. Roberta Camp, Miss Scioto Valley, Kara Roberts and I stood in the back of the auditorium as the awards were given out, waiting to join the winner for a photo. It quickly because clear that Jenna Wilson was a front runner, as she received almost every possible award.

Roberta and I compared notes on our similar situations in which once you win a few awards, your fellow contestants on stage start congratulating you as if you’ve already won the title. Of course you want them to be right, but you never know, and you certainly don’t want to act overconfident in that moment onstage in front of everyone. We sympathized with the intensity of the moment Jenna must have been experiencing; those few minutes feel like an eternity. It’s such an amazing feelings to win the awards like Interview and Talent, but at the same time your stomach turns with the reality that those awards do not grantee the crown. I remember a Miss Lake Festival pageant in which the Interview and Talent winner was named 2nd runner up; at Miss Ohio double preliminary winners have not made the top ten! Of course, ultimately Jenna was crowned!

Originally I had thought Samantha Maxwell, an entertainer at Miss Ohio last year, was the only contestant with prior Miss America affiliation, but Roberta and Kara informed me that Jenna and runner up Karissa Martin have been competing, I just haven’t crossed pageant paths with either of them. As Jenna walked the runway, Berta, Kara and I made our way toward the stage, trying to find the only other titleholder in attendance, Miss North Coast, Jillian Dansko. We stood awkwardly at the side steps to the stage, not knowing exactly what to do, as the contestants ambushed Jenna with hugs. Then suddenly it hit us… Duh! Let’s go talk to MISS AMERICA, while she’s just standing alone onstage with no one else bothering her yet!

[Above L-R: Jillian Dansko, Miss North Coast, Roberta Camp, Miss Scioto Valley, Heather French Henry, Miss America 2000 and I]

Before I could even introduce myself Heather French gave me a hug, as if she already knew me or something. We chatted for a moment, and then the cameras came out! In the midst of holding a pose I asked her if during your year of service as Miss America you ever get used to it [smiling for a zillion photos]? She replied, “You just never stop.” And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why she was Miss America! That answer, which could have been sarcastic, was completely genuine. As we marveled at her Miss America crown, she explained that some stones were missing because she had other types of jewelry made with them and she gave them as gifts (to her Miss America traveling companion, I believe.) She mentioned that other things needed repaired, just from all the handling over the years. I wish I could remember her exact words, but she spoke something to the effect of, the value in having the crown is the ability to share it with others, to let others hold it and wear it.

Throughout my years of competing I have spoke, and heard others speak on the idea of titleholders being community servants, as opposed to pretty queens for others to bow down to. Hearing Heather speak about the crown was the first time that idea seemed tangible, rather than an abstraction. People are always gripping that our recent Miss Americas are never seen wearing their crowns, and maybe this is why. They’re not the fastest or easiest things in the world to get on and off your head, so in terms of having the ability to share it with others, carrying it makes more sense. I’ve decided that since I have more than one crown, I’ll now carry an “extra” to appearances, one for my head and one to share. [On the right Berta and Kara gaze at Heather's crown; click to enlarge.]

As the stage became a bustle with people, Kara made a comment like, look at her just standing there… she’s Miss America, she needs to be sitting on a thrown or something! The think I found so compelling about Heather was the fact that if there was a thrown, she probably wouldn’t accept it. I don’t know how to describe her other than dynamically down to earth. There was no denying the fact that you were in the presents of a Miss America, yet there was no level of intimidation. In the brief moments I spoke with her, I was so incredibly inspired.

I am such a lover of anecdotes, so I have to share some of what she shared with us… In years since her, the reigning Miss America has had a correct feeling about who she would crown. Heather crowned Angela Perez Baraquio, who had been hesitant to try on the Miss America crown, as to not jinx herself; Heather encouraged her to anyway. Incidentally, both were swimsuit winners and had the same contestant number, fifty I believe it was. As the final night approached, Heather just had a feeling she would win and became concerned about how she would get the crown to stay on Angela’s very slicked back hair style. She actually went out and purchased certain hair clips, and was ultimately right!

I explained to Heather that my inspiration to compete in the Miss America program came from my first voice teacher, and one of Heather’s Miss Ohio roommates, Amy Zimmerman. If anyone from Celina is reading, do share with Amy’s family that Heather asked how she was doing and sends her best.

I could go on and on… but this is probably my longest post of original thoughts, so I’ll conclude. Jenna was whisked away for some interviews, so we never did get a photograph all together. After the crowning a nice reception was held in the basement of the theatre. Again, congratulations to Jenna and all the contestants! Also to Andy and Vicki LeVeck for putting on a very successful program. Scroll below to Sunday the 8th for complete results; more photos can be found on my Webshots.

Even with several hours of highway ahead of us, my parents and I were some of the last to leave, though we didn’t get to far before stopping again… The story continues in the post below…


  • Hey, I wish I could get my counter to work. I may just hand over that to you, if you would be so kind(?) I trust you won't sabotage my very important blog! lol...
    I haven't talked to EW in a long time, In fact, it was 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant is the last time I saw her. I mean to call her alot, but I always get sidetracked. I'm SURE you know how that goes. If you talk to her again, tell her about my blog. I would like to talk to her soon.

    I also wanted to tell you, that if I ever hurt your feelings, EVER, that I'm really sorry. I wasn't as happy as I am now when I was in High School. I had to grow up fast when I was 16/17ish because of certain stupid people, and I got very jelous of the fact that I had to go through that crap and others didn't just because someone didn't like me THAT MUCH. So, I know that I said hurtful things to people sometimes, and I hope you weren't a victim of one of my rantings. I enjoy talking to you, and I'm glad we reconnected. :)
    Thanks for the well wishings of the laundry. It is all finished just to be piled into 3 weeks worth of laundry all over again... YAY ME!


    By Blogger jamie, at 6:15 PM  

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