Photography by-Colleen Cahill Studios

Friday, August 27, 2010

2010 Beauties of America Pageant A FABULOUS Event!

What an absolutely wonderful end to what can only be described as a brilliant turning point year for me as I headed to the Beauties of America pageant to crown my successor.  The big surprise of the weekend? It was none other than one of the leading national women's publications, MORE Magazine, who sent a writing and photography team to cover the entire event!

Beauties of America has a very long tradition of celebrating beauty and achievement at every age.  Women from across the country converged in Myrtle Beach South Carolina to compete for the titles of 2010 Beauties of America's teens through 50s and up, vying for the prestigious national crowns.  In fact, it is the first such pageant system to recognize that women of all ages should be celebrated and has spent the past 26 years doing precisely that.

Arriving for the weekend event, my first duty was to join my sister queen Jillian Dansko-2009 America's 20s in greeting the delegates as they arrived for orientation.  Always a joy to be around, Jillian was her usual ebullient self and we had a lot of fun welcoming the ladies.

Following the afternoon's orientation sessions the ladies returned to their rooms to get dressed for the elegant red carpet event that soon followed. The ladies were treated to an evening of gowns, crowns, and tons of pictures.

The evening closed with a workshop from the 2009 queens offering advise and last minute encouragement to all the ladies.

All the while MORE Magazine staff mingled and mixed with the ladies to get a feel for what was so special about this pageant experience and learn about what motivates women age 40 and over to compete in pageants.

The following morning it was interview time and the ladies each had a panel interview with the judges for the event.  As 2009 America's 50s I had the privilege of greeting each America's 50s delegate and calm some last minute nerves as the ladies prepared to go into their interviews, and had more photos taken by official pageant photographer Paula Preston.

After a fun lunch and informal roundtable discussion with the MORE Magazine writer, the ladies began rehearsals for the stage production.  Tim Kretschmann of Pageant Cast was also on hand to interview the ladies for his national podcast.

Proving to be the gracious and wonderful man he is, Tim saved the day for me when I learned my farewell speech would not play on the audio equipment.  Tim ran to Office Depot and got he necessary recording media for me so my farewell would be perfect.  You can listen to his coverage of the pageant by clicking this link to hear his interviews with the 40s and 50s contestants and the 2009 Beauties of America national queens: PageantCast.

That evening, greeted with thundering rain all of the ladies were whisked away to Planet Hollywood.  The delegates were transported in a stretch limo Hummer for a dinner as celebrities.

My sister queens and I had fun turning the tables and cameras, on the photographers as we snapped photos of all of them taking our pictures.

The evening ended just as the skies opened enough for the traditional queens photo in front of Planet Hollywood.  Paula Preston was camera ready and you can view all the photos on her website under the "events" section at: Paula Preston Photography.

The following morning it was down to the wire as the ladies continued with rehearsals.  Lunchtime was spent exchanging gifts and in a new twist for this year, a raffle to win some exclusive Beauties of America items including a gorgeous denim jacket, fleece blanket, and sparkling jewelry (provided by national director Jennifer, in the pink jacket).

In the evening it was showtime! Many asked me if I was sad to have to say goodbye.  Short answer, not at all!  Being the national spokesperson and titleholder for women over 50 was the thrill of a lifetime, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  As the result I have so many opportunities waiting for me that I am ready to move on to those with a grateful heart.

The most fun for me was in spending some wonderful last moments with my sister queens, Karli Barnett-America's Teen, Jillian Dansko-America's 20s, Jessica Cassidy-America's 30s, Sam Britt-America's 40s, and our FABULOUS director and former America's 30s queen, Jennifer Reed.  And, of course, awarding so many lucky women the recognition they deserved on stage.

Anticipating the announcement of the winners was as nerve wracking as when I was competing! With a couple of Oregon contestants in the mix, I was of course hopeful for them both.  That is Oregon's own Tamara Wissbaum-Western States 40s on the left and Oregon's 30s Amy Pludeman on my right.

As my sister queen Mrs. Oregon International 2007 Tamara Wissbaum was named 2010 America's 40s, I wanted to do cartwheels down the stage!  I was thrilled when outgoing 40s queen Sam Britt permitted me to help her as she crowned Tamara.

Then it was time to say goodbye.  As I made my way down the stage for my final walk, my wonderful husband and a very dear friend were there to cheer me on.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect year.

A huge THANK YOU to MORE Magazine for coming to the pageant, and the fabulous photo shoots.  Be looking for the story in a future edition of MORE Magazine on newsstands slated to be released sometime after the new year.

Most importantly, my heartfelt gratitude to Jennifer Reed for making this such a wonderful experience!  You are a woman of character and honor, and I appreciate the privilege to be able to now call you my friend.

Congratulations to all of the 2010 Beauties of America queens-Kathy Lauer-America's 50s, Tamara Wissbaum-America's 40s, Siouxzan Moore-America's 30s, Jana Murrell-America's 20s, and Brooke Hidde, America's Teen.

See you all next year in San Antonio, Texas as Beauties of America continues to grow!  As for the 2009 queens, we will be there with cowgirl boots and hats on, cheering the 2011 delegates and our successors!