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MN International Pageant Weekend

Back in February, I told my mom I really wanted to compete in a pageant. My mom said I had to wait until I was 13-years-old because she feels that is the earliest young girls should compete. I begged and begged her but she said no. But then an opportunity came up that made her change her mind—kind of.

I should mention that my mom was Mrs. Minnesota International 2003 and is now a pageant coach, and she has remained close with the MN International director Allison Stavrakis. Allison had mentioned that the one pre-teen contestant signed up for the pageant had decided to drop out, so she was going to cancel the pre-teen division. My mom thought this might be a good way to see if I really liked this whole pageant thing without actually breaking her rule of making me wait until I was 13 to compete. She asked me if I would be interested and I was like “DEFINITELY!” My mom told me I would have to still go on stage and “compete” alongside the teens in all of the categories but that I wouldn’t actually be competing against any other pre-teens. In my eyes that was better than nothing so I said “Let’s do this!”

I have seen my mom coach pageant clients but I myself had never done anything like this. My mom taught me how to do a pageant walk, pose, and stage presence. I have always loved the stage! I also memorized and practiced my 30-second platform speech about my platform, “Don’t Shop—ADOPT!”. We had fun choosing my wardrobe, getting headshots, and preparing for the big weekend.

Finally pageant weekend arrived! All day at school on Friday, I couldn’t wait for my mom to pick me up. As you might guess, I was very excited! After all, this was my very first pageant. I just couldn’t wait to get started!

After hours of waiting, school was over and my mom and I were ready to go. In a half an hour we arrived at the hotel. During the drive there, I noticed that my throat was starting to hurt a little bit. I didn’t pay much attention to it because I was so excited.

When we arrived at the Holiday Inn, my mom’s teen client Kelly Brown (now Miss Teen MN International 2016) was waiting for us since we were giving her a ride. We went up to our room to drop our stuff off and then we headed over to the Wellstone Center for Orientation.

During Orientation, we all introduced ourselves and talked a little bit about our platforms. The reigning queens were introduced and it was fun to see some former queens in attendance, including my mom! Then we had our first rehearsal where we learned our stage placements and practiced walking to our spots on stage. It was a lot of fun but my throat was starting to hurt even more. After rehearsal, we went back to the hotel and I went to sleep right away because I had a big day ahead!

The next day competition started! I was extra excited because this morning I had my interview! I got my hair and makeup done which was really fun. The interview competition was my favorite part of the whole weekend because I got to meet new people! It was soooooo much fun just getting to know all the judges and share my story and my platform with them! Since I was the only Pre-Teen contestant, I interviewed alongside the Teen contestants. I later found out that I got the second highest score in Interview after the eventual Teen winner, Kelly Brown. So I am pretty proud of that!

After interview was over, we headed to the theater for more rehearsals. We practiced fun fashion wear, evening gown, and on-stage questions. It was also very fun spending time with the outgoing titleholder Lilly Imm during down time. We had lots of fun together and had Subway for lunch which was provided by the pageant.

Finally it was time for the pageant! Surprisingly, I wasn’t very nervous but rather very excited. It was sooooo much fun. First we introduced ourselves and the city or county we represented. Then we each gave our platform speech and answered a question about our platform. I felt very confident with my answer. I later found out I had the highest score in that area (even including the Teens). So I am probably more proud of that than anything else during pageant weekend since that is what this pageant is all about—platform!

Next we competed in fun fashion wear—I was contestant #1! My fun fashion outfit was rhinestoned neon pink with a black belt and ruffled skirt. I just love it. Lastly, we competed in evening gown. I felt like a princess! The outgoing queens gave their farewells and some special awards were given out.

Next it was time for the crowning. It was so fun having that crowning moment. I could hear my family cheering for me in the audience. After I was crowned, the Teen division was up and I was really hoping my mom’s client Kelly would win—and she did! It was really fun to see Kelly get crowned. Next up were the Miss contestants. My mom didn’t have any clients competing in that division but I was so happy to see Sabrina Astar get crowned! She was so nice to me all weekend. Then in the Mrs division, Morgan Bredde won and she is so beautiful and nice. All of my pageant sisters are so sweet and kind.

After the pageant, we had the Coronation Party where some more special awards were given out and cake was served. The outgoing queens introduced us and we each said a few words. By this time of night, my throat was killing me and really starting to hurt. The next day, my parents took me to Urgent Care and it turned out I had strep throat all weekend and we didn’t know it! No wonder I felt so rotten. But I am glad I pushed through it because it such a wonderful weekend.

I am so happy I tried this! It is definitely something I want to do again once I turn 13. My first pageant was truly amazing. Special thanks to Allison Stavrakis and the rest of the pageant staff for treating us so well, and also to the sponsors of the pageant for the wonderful prize package. I can’t wait to see what this year holds and I am so honored to be your Miss MN Pre-Teen International 2016!

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© Ava Ernst 2020

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