Personal Essays

Tonight’s the Night

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On a Saturday in June of 2004, I woke up, put on a sundress and grabbed a bag of candy. It was parade day for the Miss South Dakota Pageant. Before the final night of competition, the contestants parade down main street in some pretty hot convertibles, throwing candy at kids that line the street.

That morning was freezing. Well, almost. It was probably in the 40s. Some contestants even put on jeans and boots. Parents brought us sweaters (often bought the day before from the Mammoth Site, because who would’ve thought to bring a heavy sweater to the Black Hills the last week of June?) and the drivers brought in blankets.

Today the parade weather was much more accomadating. In the sun it could get quite hot, but the shade was absolutely perfect. Never-the-less, I still dressed in a button down shirt and ankle pants to keep my skin exposure to a minimum. I’d rather be hot in my clothes than slather my skin in sunscreen every 1/2 hour.

For the contestants, Saturday morning is full of anticipation. You basically just try and chill the whole day because everything is already set for the evening’s crowning. The semi-finalists have been selected and no one knows who it will be until those names are called out on stage.

The first year I competed at Miss SD, I was a runner-up. For whatever reason, that year the state invited all the ladies who placed as first runner-ups at locals to come compete at state. I believe I was runner-up in three pageants (and had received no placement in another two pageants that I competed in). So I expected nothing on Saturday.

Actually, I was convinced my roommate (Nikki Grandpre) was going to win. They called my name just before they called Nikki’s when the semi-finalists were announced. I about died. But I was sure excited. I sometimes try to imagine what my parents thought. I bet they were about inside too! That night I was also called to be in the Top Five and do an onstage interview with the Mcees. When my name was called for Top Five, I panicked. All I could think was, “I can’t win this. I can’t win this. I don’t have enough clothes to stay in Hot Springs for another week if I win this.” Well, that year Kyra Korver became Miss SD. And the following year my prediction for my roommate came true and Nikki was crowned by Kyra.

Why am I typing all of this? Well I really wonder what is going through the minds of the contestants tonight. Some young women tonight are going to be very dissappointed. Some might be bitter about it. Wear a chip on their shoulder. Others will be grateful and truly show appreciation for their experience. Some will expect to place and act like they knew it all along. I hate that. But my favorite reaction, my absolute favorite, is the kind I myself experienced that first year. Utter terror and excitement and complete surprise at placing.

I often root for the underdog. The girl who doesn’t win a preliminary competition. Probably because I was frequently that girl. The girl who is getting a kick out of dancing on stage, being silly and without expectations. I love the true surprise. And, of course, I hope that happens tonight. I hope the girl who gets the job has an heir of grattitude and confidence. I hope she worked her ass off and has the maturity to know that many of her sister contestants can and could do this job just as well or even better than her. I hope she appreicates the volunteers (including and especially the kids on the stage crew) and shows them respect. And I hope she will take to heart how she will be, for her entire life, a representative of this organization.

And now. It is time to pack. Time to get dressed up. And time to find out who Miss SD 2013 will be. Keep your fingers crossed and watch the Miss South Dakota Organization on Facebook (via the live feed) or just the updates to get the latest information.

For your viewing pleasure, I present a series of photos of my wardrobe. Because another little thing pageants taught me about was having fun with fashion. Below you will see my shotty camera selfies of my pageant week wardrobe. (Wanted to get my shoes in the photos so excuse my angles!)
1. Wednesday Night Prelim
Banana Republic Wrap Top and Navy Pencil Skirt with Nine West Heels
2. Thursday Night Prelim
Diane VonFurstenberg Blue Dress with Marcus Gold Heels
3. Teen Interview Outfit
Banana Republic Striped Dress and Express Blue Jacket with Marc Fisher Nude Heels
4. Miss SD Outstanding Teen Pageant/Evening
Hot Pink Sherri Hill Banded Dress with Marc Fisher Nude Heels
5. Miss SD Finals Night
Yellow VaVaVoom (seriously that’s the brand) Dress with Purple Louboutin Slingbacks

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