My experience at Miss Arkansas 5 years ago will be one that I will never forget. I already went over the Arrival Ceremony and Rehearsals/Appearances. Now it is time to move on to competition and visitation.
Miss Arkansas has so many contestants each year. We were split into three groups (A, B, and C) and have preliminary competition on nights Wednesday-Friday, with final competition on Saturday. Earlier in the week each group competed in a private, 10 minute interview in front of a panel of 5-7 judges.
I was in group C, so my competition schedule went as such: Wednesday - Swimsuit, Thursday - Evening Gown and On Stage Question, and Friday - Talent. I was very pleased with my schedule and couldn't wait to get on stage. I loved my wardrobe and the girls in my group and had a blast every night.
Like I said, I had Swimsuit on Wednesday night. I have always had the easiest time with Swimsuit. It was a struggle getting confident enough when I first started competing, but by the time I made it to the Miss Arkansas stage, I had a swimsuit award under my belt and a beautiful swimsuit to strut in. Of course, I am miles and miles more fit now and think my performance would be leaps and bounds better than when I was 19, but I still had a blast and am still in love with the suit I chose to rock.
All week we were on lock down, so we never got to see our friends or family. It helped to keep our minds focused on the competition. Each night after preliminary competition, we were allowed 15 minutes at Visitation to visit with our friends, family, and supporters. It was so nice to see everyone on Wednesday night.
With my wonderful director, Stephanie Straight and my beautiful teen queen, Haley Henderson
With my baby sister, Elizabeth, one of my biggest fans.
Thursday night I had Evening Gown. I was very excited about this night, my gown was a one of a kind Sherri Hill, which I still love to this day (and is for sale by the way!). It was chocolate brown velvet, completely embellished on one side with a sweetheart neckline. My director had the alterations team hike up the slit to show off some more leg. It was beautiful. I couldn't wait to walk across the stage in it. During Evening Gown, our Diamond State Princesses also got their time to shine. Each contestant is met out on stage with their prince or princess to walk down the runway with them.
Answering my On Stage Question. It was about the war on terrorism, my platform was Support the Troops.
Meeting my Princess, Samantha out on stage. Love, love her.
Side view of the gown. Waving to the crowd before walking the runway.
Walking the runway with Samantha, my Diamond State Princess.
Visitation that night was fun. More supporters had come out and once again, I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit with everyone.
My teen queen was extremely supportive my whole week at Miss Arkansas. I couldn't have asked for a better sister queen that year.
My baby sister, Elizabeth holding a sign my family made for me. It made it easy to spot them in the crowd while I was on stage. Loved every minute of it.
My beautiful Princess, Samantha with some gifts from a former director of mine, Debbie Alsup.
Friday was a whole new ball game. I had talent. For months leading up to the Miss Arkansas pageant, I had been struggling with my voice. It became hoarse very easily and my throat was hurting constantly. The morning of my talent prelim, I woke up with no voice. I was very freaked out and didn't know how to handle the obstacle. Talent is the highest percentage of points you can gather during competition, it can definitely make or break you. Being a singer, a sore throat and raspy voice if your worst enemy and unfortunately my only experience at Miss Arkansas was plagued by this issue. All day I kept my mouth shut and resorted to drinking hot, decaffeinated tea with lemon. I was doing all that I could to get my voice back before the night. During dress rehearsals that morning, each contestant gets two chances to practice talent, I ended up walking off the stage, in tears during half of my first turn. I couldn't get my vocals to work and was horrified. I had no other choice than to act like nothing was wrong and go out on stage that night to do my best.
Each contestant had to video tape an intro to their talent.
My song was Michael Buble's 'For Once in My Life'.
My outfit was a gorgeous one piece pants suit with mesh sleeves and a train. It had a plunging neckline and I had the perfect shoes to go with it.
Even with my voice not working, I felt like a rockstar. It was amazing performing on the Miss Arkansas stage.
Once again, my beautiful Princess, Samantha met me on stage after my performance to hand me a flower. Precious!
Visitation that night was hard for me. I knew with my performance I would not be making the Top 10. My career at Miss Arkansas was over. Even though I had tried my best, I was not THE best that year. I wish so bad that I could've made it back at least once, but it just was not in the cards for me.
I am blessed to have such supportive parents throughout my entire pageant career.
With the sign on my table at Visitation.
I racked up on the goodies Friday night.
Saturday night was the final night of competition. After each of the contestants introduced ourselves, we went straight into calling the Top 10. I was at peace about where I stood in knowing that I would not be one of the names called.
In our opening number dresses we wore each night of competition.
Waiting to hear the Top 10.
Top 10 was called and those of us who did not make the cut were able to relax the entire night. We were not needed again until the closing number and crowning. All week during preliminary competition, we were not allowed to have our cell phones with us. Final night of competition, it did not matter.
Sitting high up in the convention center, with phones in hand, watching the rest of the competition.
Top 5 was announced and we were one step closer to crowning Miss Arkansas 2008.
Sarah Slocum (who became Miss Arkansas 2009), Ashleigh Green, Ashlen Batson, Lauren English, and Chanley Painter (who became Miss Arkansas USA 2009)
Ashlen Batson, Miss Arkansas 2008
Top 12 Miss America 2010
Like I've said, this week is one I will never forget and cherish forever. It has made such an impact on my life. So many lessons learned, friendships made, and growth above all. I will always be fond of the Miss Arkansas system, until the end of my days.
Unfortunately, I never made it back to the Miss Arkansas stage. Maybe one day in the future I will, as a volunteer. Until then I will continue to show the utmost support and love. Miss Arkansas is one of the reasons I have any college education under my belt. It is an amazing opportunity for young women in the state and I encourage anyone who wants to give it a try, to put your best foot forward.
Good luck to all the ladies competing tonight, especially my good friends Alex and Amy. I know whoever is chosen will represent Arkansas beautifully.
What is one memory you will cherish forever?