By Natalie Conrad
Herald Staff Writer
Young ladies from ages five to 22 are preparing to take the stage for the 51st Annual Miss Clinton County pageant this weekend.
Eager contestants ran through their routines at a rehearsal at the Central Performing Arts Center on Thursday.
The pageant which includes Lil’ Miss, Junior Miss, Outstanding Teen and Miss Clinton County divisions will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. at the center.
“It’s so fun to watch the girls perform,” Miss Clinton County Board President Rachael Vopatek said. “It’s so much more than a beauty pageant.”
This year’s 19 contestants had to prove their dedication and academic abilities throughout the application process. Contestants must submit an essay and resume, including the youngest division, Lil’ Miss with girls ages five to eight.
These requirements have been in place long before these contestants were born and continue as a mainstay to ensure well-rounded competitors, according to Vopatek.
Miss Clinton County Alexandria Necker was on hand at the rehearsal to offer encouragement to the young hopefuls.
“This has been such a great experience,” Necker said. “I hope you all seize the opportunity.”
Necker, who was also first runner-up for Miss Iowa will participate and perform at the pageant along with other current title holders Miss Clinton County’s Outstanding Teen 2011 and Current Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen, Savannah Necker; Junior Miss Clinton County 2011 and Third Runner-Up at Junior Miss Iowa, Maddie Peterson; and Lil’ Miss Clinton County & Lil’ Miss Iowa’s “People’s Choice” Winner, Alexis Krogmann.
Contestants in all divisions will preform a talent, have a private interview and answer on stage questions. Categories differ for the active competition. Lil’ Miss and Junior Miss contestants will compete in casual wear, while the Outstanding Teen contestants show off active wear and Miss contestants compete in swim suit.
Fans of “Toddlers and Tiaras,”should not expect the same theatrics at this pageant. Girls in the Lil’ Miss and Junior Miss are not even allowed to wear makeup, much different from the heavily painted faces on television, according to Vopatek. Miss Clinton County contestants are also required to be involved in the community with service projects and community service platforms.
For the first time, all five contestants competing for the Miss Clinton County title will receive a $500 scholarship and scholarships for the winner and runner-up have been increased to $1,500 and $800 respectively.
“We have been working very hard this year to raise scholarship funds for the contestants and it has really paid off,” Vopatek said.
The young ladies who win will continue on to the Miss Iowa pageant in June 2013. Those crowned will use the upcoming year to make appearances and promote their community service platforms throughout the area. Tickets are $10 and are available in advance at Clinton Printing or at the door.