Week four started off with the Miss America Lottery, one of the most exciting yet nerve-racking things. The Miss America Lottery is how candidates choose their spot at Miss America. At about 1pm I went over to the Bauman Agency to sit with Callee Bauman Wachter, Miss SD 2006. I called in to let the Miss America office know I was ready. There is a webpage that each candidate pulls up during the lottery. For approximately two and a half hours, a random generator populates each state, prompting that state to choose a candidate spot. At the top of the webpage is the candidate choosing, below that is “up next,” following by “upcoming.” That is how you know when your state is getting ready to choose a candidate spot. Come to think of it, it is a lot like baseball - a batter is up, on deck, and in the whole.
As I sat in Callee’s office patiently (or not so patiently) waiting for SOUTH DAKOTA to populate the screen I could not help but feel grateful, excited, and exhilarated by the journey the Lord has placed me on. Finally, my name popped up, causing me to jump out of my chair. I told Callee, “Okay we need to dial the number into the phone so we can press ‘send’ as soon as SOUTH DAKOTA is shown in the ‘choosing’ row.” I did not want to miss my four-minute window to choose my Miss America spot.
I am candidate number 6 in the MU group and am going to compete at MISS AMERICA.
Fun fact: I was finalist number 6 at Miss South Dakota this year. Aaron, the stage manager, and I have a running joke with my candidate number. At Miss South Dakota I was candidate number 12, but for some reason it took me nearly the entire week to actually remember that I was #12. The announcers would call my name or we would be doing roll call and I was lost in a deep trance every time. Aaron gave me a hard time the whole week and referred to me as #12 without fail. Then, when I was called as finalist number 6, he kindly reminded me that 6 was half of 12. And now, I am candidate number 6 at Miss America. A chance to relish in coincidences.
Before I left for Miss South Dakota, I visited a retirement community in Sioux Falls called Grand Living. I was looking for opportunities to perform the piano and challenge myself to overcome my nerves. After I won, Mary from Grand Living was gracious enough to invite me back for a mini send off to Miss America. The venue was beautiful. Many women who live in the community brought down their china to decorate each table making each table uniquely exquisite. One of my favorites was a china set decorated with pheasant accents. During my time there, I met a woman named Dee who spent many hours helping prepare the tables for the afternoon tea. She was eager to get to know me, and I her, and loved to hear peaceful piano music.
Friday and Saturday I spent my time at the Jeschke Fine Arts Center for the Miss Siouxland Competition. This was the first local competition of the 2019 Miss South Dakota season. Thursday evening, the local titleholders and volunteers met to discuss a game plan for the weekend and assign duties. I am constantly reminded of how much time and heart our volunteers put into this program. They truly help make Miss South Dakota successful. Friday morning, we met at the Fine Arts Center to set up the stage before the candidates arrived. There were a total of 14 candidates for Miss Siouxland and 12 candidates for Miss Siouxland’s Outstanding Teen. Once they arrived, we loaded the bus for Sanford Children’s Hospital. Megan Kjose gave us a quick overview of how CMN funds help children and their families at the hospital. CMN funds help pay for family expenses, specialized equipment, and Child Life Specialists. We met five Miracle Children, did their hair/makeup, made tie-dye t-shirts, and had a fashion show.
The remainder of Friday was filled with rehearsal and reminiscing about past Miss Siouxland competitions. In fact, the last time I was at the Miss Siouxland competition I gave up my third local title, Miss Rolling Plains. Cue story time. As Miss Rolling Plains, I was in charge of announcing some of the talents. I was trying to find a path to the stage, however, the direction I had practiced during rehearsal was blocked. Instead, you could say I took the path less travelled. Somehow, on my way to the stage I fell through a hole and sliced my knee open. Dazed, I stood up and was about to run onto the stage but realized I was bleeding. Not sure what to do, I ran around in circles for a little bit before hustling to the dressing room to get some Band-Aids. My dad came to rescue with bandages and pink duct tape. Before anyone knew I was gone, I was back on stage crowning the new Miss Rolling Plains, Megan Lipp.
After the competition, I insisted we go to Dairy Queen because I was starving and ice cream is a necessity. Only then could we go to the hospital. My mom and dad spent about 4 hours waiting for me to get 9 stiches in my knee. At the time, it was only slightly terrifying. Looking back, it is such a fun story to tell. Plus, now I have an answer for “What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?”
Saturday morning, the candidates spent time in rehearsal before starting interviews that afternoon. During the afternoon, I spent time with the 18 prince and princesses who came for Miss Siouxland. They arrived at about noon on Saturday. They learned a dance to “Surfin in the USA,” met all the titleholders, and got their hair and makeup done for the show. One of my favorite things about the Miss South Dakota and Miss America Organization is its’ ability to inspire children. I still remember the overwhelming admiration I had for Miss South Dakota titleholders when I was a little girl. Every one of them showed me what it means to relentlessly chase your dreams – big or small.
The night ended with excitement as four Miss candidates and four Teen candidates were crowned. Congratulations to the following newly crowned titleholders:
Miss Siouxland: Evy Johnson
Miss Rolling Plains: Annie Woodmansey
Miss Sioux Falls: Elizabeth Hofer
Miss Railroad Junction: Cameron Schroder
Miss Siouxland's Outstanding Teen: Payton Steffensen
Miss Rolling Plains Outstanding Teen: Javonte Madsen
Miss Sioux Empire's Outstanding Teen: Breanna Bossman
Miss Railroad Junction's Outstanding Teen: Laney Titze
I am thrilled for the journey these titleholders are embarking on to become the next Miss SD and Miss SDOT. As I head into Week 5 I would like to leave you with this quote:
“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” – Maya Angelou