November 3rd, 2008
A lot of kids in our program choose to participate the optional contests. Every year its so great to see them display their talents, skills and abilities on stage. The variety of talents I have seen over the years is astounding. Every time I think I have seen it all, something surprises me. One year we had a girl do turkey calling, this year in Tennessee we had a girl skateboard on stage!
Often I am asked, do the optional contests have anything to do with who wins the overall pageant. The answer is NO. As the state director part of my job is to seat 2 separate panels of judges, one for the optionals and one for the overall pageant. The overall judges aren’t allowed in the ballroom during the optional contests, the judging is complete after the representation of the formal wear during the final show before we announce who won the optionals, they don’t even get to see a program book until after the pageant. I go to great lengths to make sure all the judges are impartial and unbiased.
Sometimes a young lady who does well in the optionals also does well in the pageant. This prompts the occasional inquiry. The simple situation is that kids that participate in alot of optionals tend to be more comfortable on stage. Maybe they have taken dance lessons for years, or have been in band for a while. As I mentioned in previous blogs, this isn’t a beauty pageant. The more confident and comfortable a contestant is on stage, the more the judges are going to see that. They are looking for the young ladywho is self-aware, proud of who she is, they are looking for the representative for their state.
Years ago while I was working as the sound tech at the Washington State Pageant a young lady approached the sound table and asked, “Can I set my batons on fire for talent?”. Of course for obvious safty reasons my response was, “no”. So she appeals to the hotel and they gave her permission to. So I was l like, “well, if they say it’s ok.” So there I am on the side of the stage with a fire extinguisher just in case, God forbid, something goes wrong, I’m prepared. I lean over and I ask her, “so how long have you been twriling fire batons?” Her response is one that still echos in my ears, “this is only my second time setting them on fire!” Holy smokes, sound the alarms…….. Luckily, nothing went wrong and everyone made it out alive. I don’t know if there’s a nugget of wisdom in there or not, but its a fun story none the less.
Have a great day.