Miss Wisconsin 2005

Follow Tracy Gest on her magical quest to become Miss America! This talented, beautiful young woman is working hard on her platform of Diabetes Awareness and hopes to see the cure in her lifetime. Help Tracy on her search for both of these dreams!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Miss Wisconsin pageant deals with criticism, celebrates its successes

By Sarah Owen of The Northwestern

One afternoon in 1968, passersby combing the boardwalk in front of the Atlantic City Convention Center stopped to watch a demonstration.

A group of about 150 feminists from six cities were crowning a sheep “Miss America.”Then, they proceeded to purge high heels, girdles, bras, fake eyelashes, curlers and other “objects of female oppression” into what they called a freedom trash can.“It was the first time the public became aware of the feminist take on pageants,” said Helen Bannan, director of the women’s studies department at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. “It was very much a media event to raise consciousness that women on parade are like cuts of meat,” she said. “You don’t see that level of resistance anymore, but many people still have similar attitudes toward the pageant.”The Miss America organization is one of many pageants whose roots date back to the early 1900s. With the 2007 Miss Wisconsin competition on the horizon, local representatives still find themselves fighting what they see as misperceptions about the purpose of their pageant.

Public perception
Jeanne Schmal, co-chairwoman of the publicity committee for Miss Wisconsin, said strides have been made in educating the public about their organization’s track record in awarding scholarships to women to help further their education – for example, in 2006, the program made $45 million available in cash prizes and in-kind scholarships. But they still fight perceptions that Miss America is like every other “beauty pageant.”“It is a little frustrating,” Schmal said. “Certainly most of these contestants are beautiful young women, but they also have skills and the knowledge, and they have a desire to do something good for their community, for their state, for the country.”However, feminists and the pageant-wary see it differently; some posing the question, “If it’s a ‘scholarship pageant,’ why isn’t that the focus of the competition?” There’s a distrust of pageants among some. “Any time a woman’s parading in a bathing suit and high heels, it’s hard to take it seriously as a scholarship organization looking at leadership and talent … because no one in the real world wears high heels and a bathing suit,” Bannan said.Be it Donald Trump’s sensationalized Miss USA pageant or the Miss America competition, “I think they’re all at heart focused on women’s beauty and objectifying women that way. At least some of them have the scholarship angle to it,” Bannan said. “But if they want to take themselves seriously and have it be a scholarship pageant, they should emphasize that.”The Miss America competition began as a swimsuit contest in 1921, as a gimmick to keep tourists in Atlantic City past Labor Day, Schmal said. “It is a topic of criticism of the pageant, I know, but it was the whole basis of the Miss America pageant when it began,” she said. Organization representatives maintain that keeping the swimsuit part of the competition maintains tradition, and it is not meant to exploit physical beauty but rather promote physical fitness and confidence.“It’s apparently a favorite of the TV audience, so I don’t see it going by the wayside anytime soon,” Schmal said.

Community interest
Upward of 1,400 pageant enthusiasts flood into Oshkosh each June to watch as the new Miss Wisconsin is crowned, and thousands of dollars in scholarships are awarded. Though the auditorium is typically full for the Saturday finale, the organization struggles to fill seats during preliminaries two days prior.“I think back to when we used to almost sell out every night,” said Mary Lou Lewis, volunteer for the organization for more than 40 years. “Many don’t realize, they’re not going to see their favorite girl Saturday if she’s not in the top 10. It’s Thursday and Friday when half the girls are doing swimsuit and evening wear, the other half talent, then Friday it flip-flops.”Lewis expects Saturday’s event, themed “Broadway Bound,” to sell out the night of. This year, Miss Wisconsin broke tradition by moving the pageant from the third week in June to the last, to avoid overlap with the Country USA festival. Hopes were to free up hotel rooms for incoming guests and avoid scheduling conflicts.

The logistics
There were 32 local-level pageants in 2007 that yielded this year’s Miss Wisconsin contestants, which is back on par with numbers from the 1960s.“It started out very, very strong, with 30 to 40 local pageants, and then in probably the mid-’90s the number of local pageants declined … to about 24 to 25,” Schmal said.She said one reason for the increase has to do with young women’s renewed interest in participating in the competitions. “They are beginning to appreciate more – with the cost of higher education – how valuable these scholarships are from Miss Wisconsin.”But it takes more than contestants to keep a pageant afloat. Completely volunteer-run, local pageants demand manpower and time, typically for no pay. “It is a tremendous amount of work to put on a pageant, and it costs money,” Schmal said. “It’s difficult to find people willing to dedicate that much time and energy to anything, and starting up new local pageants is probably key to the success of our program.”This year, Miss Wisconsin will feature many familiar faces, like Miss Oshkosh 2006 and current Miss Lakeshore Janelle Larie.Larie could not be reached for comment by deadline, but told The Northwestern in 2006 that scholarship-based pageant competitions always have been something she’s supported and gravitated toward. “I hoped that I’d grow up to be someone little girls looked up to,” Larie, of Oshkosh, said last year. “A representative and role model girls emulated.”State pageants like Miss Oshkosh, sponsored by the Women’s Division, support contestants by doing local fundraisers throughout the year, Lewis said. They are known for giving out upward of $10,000 in scholarships. But, what are known as “open pageants” allow former title-holders and contestants from anywhere in the state to enter, and oftentimes don’t offer the level of scholarships that state programs do.“We do have 14 out of 32 (contestants) that are repeats and have competed in our pageants or another pageant,” Lewis said. Eight contestants are open-pageant title-holders.Having repeat contestants, though, does up the contestant number and thus draw in thicker crowds.“A girl from a city usually has a stronger backing (than those from open pageants),” Lewis said. “A prime example is Miss Arcadia; once again, I have more people coming as patrons from there than I even have from the Oshkosh area.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Busy Titleholders!!

Miss USA 2004 & Miss Universe 1st runner (also Miss Missouri 2002 for Miss America) Shandi Finnessey will appear on ABC-TV's Dancing With The Stars begining March 19, 2007.


Former Miss America Kate Shindle co-stars as Vivienne Kensington in "Legally Blonde: The Musical" at the Palace Theatre in NYC begining April 3. Tickets for the Broadway run are available at http://www.ticketmaster.com/ or by calling (212) 307-4100. For more information visit http://www.legallyblondethemusical.com/.

2007 Miss USA Pageant to Broadcast from Kodak Theatre in California

Donald J. Trump and Paula M. Shugart, president of the Miss Universe organization, announced today that Los Angeles, California will host the 56th Annual Miss USA Competition where Miss USA 2006, Tara Conner, will crown her successor at the conclusion of the two-hour primetime telecast. The competition makes a return to Los Angeles after airing the last two years live from Baltimore, Maryland. The celebrated show will air live from the Kodak Theatre on Friday, March 23rd on NBC.

Miss USA Says She Dabbled in Cocaine

NEW YORK (AP) -- Miss USA Tara Conner, who nearly lost her crown for hard-partying in New York nightclubs, says in the upcoming issue of People magazine that her recent stint in rehab was a wake-up call.
"I didn't think I had an issue, but I was willing to do anything to save my job. ... I've realized that I suffer from the disease of alcoholism and addiction," says Conner, who logged in 31 days at the Caron Foundation rehab center in Wernersville, Pa.
"I was an equality-opportunity user. I would try anything once," Conner, 21, tells the magazine in its Feb. 12 issue.
At a much-publicized press conference in December, Donald Trump, who owns the Miss USA pageant, said the contrite Conner could hold onto her crown if she changed her ways. She then entered rehab.
In her interview in People magazine, her first since leaving treatment, Conner admits that she's dabbled in cocaine.
"Cocaine was one of the drugs that I did use," she says. "It's hard to look back at that."
Alcohol, though, was her biggest vice.
"I'm an alcoholic. It was a craving thing. Once I put it in my body, I would start craving more," says Conner, who notes she drank heavily but wasn't "getting sloppy drunk and dancing on tables."
As for reports that her wild ways also included promiscuity, she says, "I would talk to more than one guy at once. It doesn't mean that I was sexually active with every one of these people."
The Kentucky native, who has a family history of alcoholism, says her problems "didn't develop overnight." And, she adds, "It wasn't New York City's fault."
Her mother, Brenda Johnson, tells the magazine that Conner once showed up to school drunk when she was 14, the same year she won her first beauty pageant and her parents divorced.
Conner, who now lives with a chaperone, says she spends time reading instead of running around town. "I thought I needed to be around people, that I needed that acceptance," she says.
She's itching to return to her Miss USA duties.
"I just can't wait to get back to work." "I'm Miss U.S.A., my name is Tara Conner, and I'm happy to meet you,' you know? Life is good."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Miss Milwaukee puts 5 pageant myths to Rest

You wouldn't expect beauty pageant veteran Janel Mayer to say bad things about beauty contests, obviously.

But Miss America pageants are different from the others, she says. Having been in pageants all her life, the 22-year-old brunet says Miss America pageants are mostly scholarship-based, that winners are chosen by "talent and interviews more than looks." It's the world's largest provider of scholarship assistance for young women, according to the Miss America Web site.

Mayer's family got a letter in the mail advertising a pageant when she was 9. ("I begged my mom to let me do it," she said). Since then, Mayer has joined about one pageant a year. (When she started competing in Miss America, she participated in three to five pageants a year.)
Mayer even received a community service scholarship from Marquette University, which she fulfilled mainly through her pageant work. In 2002, she competed as Miss St. Francis, and she was Miss Coulee Region in 2006.

Congratulations Kristina

A sold out crowd of almost 600 watched Saturday night as Kristina Smaby was crowned the 2006 Miss La Crosse / Oktoberfest at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Cartwright Center.“All my family and friends out here tonight cheering is what motivates me on stage,” Smaby, 20, said.A sophomore at Viterbo University, Smaby’s platform is “Connecting Generations.”She said living with her grandfather inspired her. For the past four years, she has worked to connect generations, like bringing dance troupes to nursing homes.Smaby, a former Miss Holmen, said she plans to hold an intergenerational fair in La Crosse. When she graduates she wants to open a chain of intergenerational day cares.

As part of her duties as Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest, Smaby will visit area nursing homes and compete at the Miss Wisconsin pageant in June.Mandy Nogle is this year’s first princess, Sarah Brown is second princess, and Tracy MacKinnon is third princess.

Local women win pageants in Onalaska

Four women who won pageant titles Saturday at Onalaska High School will compete in the Miss Wisconsin pageant, two of them for the fourth time.Young women from around the state competed in four at-large pageant competitions held at the Onalaska High School auditorium. The annual Miss Midwest and Miss Western Wisconsin pageant competitions took place prior to the evening’s Miss Mississippi Valley and Miss Wisconsin West contests.Onalaska native Sarah Brown was chosen as Miss Midwest 2007. The singer is a 2004 graduate of Onalaska High School. Brown, who turns 21 on Thursday, is the daughter of Donna Brown.She succeeds 2006 titlist Abby Ryan. The UW-L music student was second runner-up in last September’s Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest pageant.Chosen as Miss Western Wisconsin 2007 was ballet dancer Elisabeth Bruzek, 23, of New Prague, Minn., who succeeds Marci Gallo, the 2006 titleholder. Bruzek, the daughter of Katherine and David Bruzek, is a graduate of Viterbo University. She was Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest 2005-06.Placing first runner-up in the twin-pageant competition was Melissa Ann Maggart, 19, of Racine, a UW-Madison student.Later in the evening, outgoing 2006 titleholders Ryan and Gallo competed for and won pageant crowns.Winning the second annual Miss Mississippi Valley pageant Saturday night was Ryan, 23, the daughter of Barbara and Edward Ryan of La Crosse. The semi-classical vocalist, who was Miss La Crosse in 2002, is an education student at UW-La Crosse. She succeeds 2006 titlist Alexandra Kealey, 24, of Merton.Gallo, 23, of Pleasant Prairie was named Miss Wisconsin West 2007. The classical pianist was crowned by 2006 queen Stacey Lee Zabinski, 24, of rural Arcadia. Gallo, the former Miss West Allis 2005, was Miss Kenosha in 2002. She is the daughter of Caroline and John Gallo.UW-L sophomore Tiffany Krohn, 20, of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., was named first runner-up in the evening dual competitions Saturday. Current Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest, Kristina Smaby, Miss Holmen Katherine Weber and Miss Onalaska Lynzi Zettler will join Brown, Bruzek, Ryan and Gallo as they advance to the 2007 Miss Wisconsin pageant, which is June 30 in Oshkosh.

Meet Miss Festival of Trees, Briana Lipor

Briana Lipor of Racine was crowned the first-ever Miss Festival of Trees on Saturday, November 25 at Memorial Hall. She is a graduate of Washington Park High School and a junior at UW-Parkside studying music education and theater.
During the competition, Briana and 11 other contestants were judged on poise, presentation, artistic expression, lifestyle and fitness and community achievement. As the newly-crowned Miss Festival of Trees, Briana was awarded a $500 scholarship and she will compete for the title of Miss Wisconsin 2007 next June.

Ashley Ash Crowned Miss Door County 2007

Ashley Ash was crowned Miss Door County 2007 on Saturday night at Southern Door Auditorium in front of a capacity crowd. All 11 contestants competed in four areas: Lifestyle and fitness, artistic expression, on-stage question and presence and poise in evening wear. After the four competitions, the 11th Annual Miss Door County Pageant came down to Ash and Bridget Engebose.

Engebose finished second while Katie Sawyer, Maggie Raye and Sarah Casperson rounded out the five finalists. This year the Miss Door County Scholarship Pageant raised $17,900. Ash will receive a $5000 scholarship for winning the crown. She will also make public appearance representing Door County. This also gives her an opportunity to promote her platform which is youth mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters. She hopes to visit elementary and high schools to talk about her platform.

Ash will represent Door County in the Miss Wisconsin Pageant. She will also make numerous public appearances at various community events. She is excited to represent Door County around the state and also looks forward to working with the other contestants in the community

Congratulations Caitlin!

Student WEA member named Miss Wisconsin-USA 2007

Student WEA member Caitlin Morrall of Alverno College in Milwaukee has been crowned Miss Wisconsin-USA.

Morrall, who is vice president-elect of the Alverno College Student WEA chapter, won the title in the state pageant held at Richland Center September 2. She will compete in the Miss USA 2007 pageant next spring at a location yet to be announced.

In June 2006 Morrall placed first runner-up in the separate Miss Wisconsin competition, where she competed as Miss Burlington Area ChocolateFest. She had previously placed 3rd runner-up in 2004, 1st runner-up in 2003 and second runner-up in 2002.

Morrall is a 2001 graduate of Burlington High School and is a senior at Alverno College majoring in education with a minor in social studies

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Winner takes long road to Miss Rapids Area crown

On Oct. 30, 2004, Shinae Kulhanek stood next to Hannah Mikels on the stage of the Performing Arts Center, waiting for the announcement of the new Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area. Her name was called first, making her first runner-up to Hannah Mikels. On Saturday, she stood in the same spot, this time next to Nicole Graf. And this time, her name was the one called last. Kulhanek, 19, was crowned the winner by the Amber Twait, Miss Wisconsin Rapids Area 2006.

"I was shocked," she said.

"My goal was to come back and compete for the scholarship money," Kulhanek said. With a $2,000 scholarship to accompany the title, she met her goal. It wasn't the easiest road to travel.

Kulhanek is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Because of school, she missed a few of the weekly workshops for the contestants. Then she drove from Madison on Wednesdays, and returned to campus the same night to participate in the rest. The week before the pageant, she made round trips Monday through Wednesday so she could be at the nightly rehearsals.

This year, four participants were college students, an all-time high for the local scholarship program.

Being older was a plus, Kulhanek said.

"And it helped that I had been in the pageant before," she said. "I was more comfortable."
Laura Williams and Graf, both college students, were finalists in previous pageants and also Saturday. Williams was third runner-up in 2004, and second runner-up this year; Graf was fifth runner-up last year and first runner-up this year

Second Miss Coulee Region 2007

Melissa Staley was crowned Miss Coulee Region 2007 at their second annual pageant at the historic Temple Theatre in Viroqua, WI on November 4.

Melissa, 22, is a senior at Alverno College majoring in nursing. She sang Chi' Bel Sogno for talent and Diabetes Awareness is her platform.

Kimbre Hart was 1st Runner Up along with Tracy MacKinnon chosen 2nd Runner up, Tiffany Krohn as 3rd Runner Up and Sarah Chandler as 4th Runner Up.

Additional awards were handed out to Kimbre Hart who was chosen Miss Congeniality by the 2007 contestants and Miss Coulee Regions Hostess. Anna Pedretti received the Community Service Award and Swimwear Award. The Academic award was given to Rose Mary Peters and the Talent award was presented to Linda Deyarmin

Congratulations Ladies!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Former Miss Wisconsin shares Her Message

(Thiensville) December 1st, 2006 — Former Miss Wisconsin Tracy Gest will discuss her experience with diabetes at the Wisconsin 2006 Patient Advocacy Leadership Summit in Milwaukee on Monday, December 4th at the Italian Community Center. Gest, Miss Wisconsin 2005, has been a life-long advocate of healthy lifestyles and the prevention of diabetes. The summit is sponsored by the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians – Foundation and made possible through a grant from GlaxoSmithKline.

“My father has had diabetes for 39 years,” said Gest, “So I’ve seen it my entire life and I’ve been passionate about it.” “More than 20 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes. Unfortunately, nearly one-third of those who have diabetes don’t know it. More information about diabetes is needed by everyone.” As Miss Wisconsin, Gest spent a year visiting community organizations and schools, speaking about healthy lifestyles and how individual communities can help the cause of diabetes prevention. She has volunteered at diabetes summer camps, participates in walk-a-thons and released a music CD, “Keys to a Cure,” with proceeds contributed to the American Diabetes Association. She continues her diabetes advocacy work following her reign as Miss Wisconsin, with speaking appearances such as the Patient Advocacy Leadership Summit.

“As a leader for patient advocacy and the health concerns of the people of Wisconsin, we understand the need to provide comprehensive information on patient advocacy, disease management and health resources to the residents of Wisconsin,” said John Brill, President of the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians (WAFP). “Tracy Gest is doing exemplary work as an advocate for diabetes awareness and healthy living and we’re pleased to have her share her experiences as a speaker at the Summit. Our goal at the Summit is to equip organizations with the knowledge to effectively advocate for the health concerns of Wisconsin’s residents.”

The Patient Advocacy Leadership Summit is a one-day informational exchange on critical health issues including immunization in Wisconsin, disease management for asthma and diabetes, prevention, intervention and innovation in healthcare and other health issues.

St. Francis Pianist named Miss Milwaukee

A 22-year-old classical pianist was crowned Miss Milwaukee on Saturday night.

Janel Yvonne Mayer of St. Francis beat out four other women at the pageant, which was at the Marian Center for Nonprofits, 3195 S. Superior St.
Mayer, a media account supervisor and former Miss St. Francis, will advance to the 2007 Miss Wisconsin pageant, on June 30 in Oshkosh.

2007 Miss La Crosse Oktoberfest

A sold out crowd of almost 600 watched Saturday night as Kristina Smaby was crowned the 2006 Miss La Crosse / Oktoberfest at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse’s Cartwright Center.“All my family and friends out here tonight cheering is what motivates me on stage,” Smaby, 20, said.A sophomore at Viterbo University, Smaby’s platform is “Connecting Generations.”She said living with her grandfather inspired her. For the past four years, she has worked to connect generations, like bringing dance troupes to nursing homes.Smaby, a former Miss Holmen, said she plans to hold an intergenerational fair in La Crosse. When she graduates she wants to open a chain of intergenerational day cares.

As part of her duties as Miss La Crosse/Oktoberfest, Smaby will visit area nursing homes and compete at the Miss Wisconsin pageant in June.Mandy Nogle is this year’s first princess, Sarah Brown is second princess, and Tracy MacKinnon is third princess.

Caledonia Teenager is Miss Racine 2007

Caledonia - Britani Denise Madala, 19, of Caledonia has been crowned Miss Racine 2007.

The tap dancer was crowned by 2006 winner Briana Rose Lipor, 20, of Racine at the Gifford Elementary School Auditorium.
Madala, the daughter of Gregory and Denise Madala, is a sophomore business and communications student at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. She will compete in the 2007 Miss Wisconsin pageant, on June 30 in Oshkosh.
First runner-up among the 11 contestants was Racine St. Catherine's High School senior Rachael Clare Faulds, 17, of Racine, and Cynthia Addie Grimal, 21, of Caledonia was named second runner-up and Miss Congeniality.
Third and fourth runners-up were Melissa Ann Maggart, 19, of Racine and Sarah Tanner, 18, of Racine.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ashland Adventure

Source: http://www.ashland-wi.com/dailypress/index.php?dect_rank=1&story_id=209013

By RICK OLIVOThe Daily PressMonday, March 20th, 2006 08:30:59 AM

Reigning Miss Wisconsin Tracy Gest got a unique adventure, trying out a dog sled on Lake Superior last Wednesday with outfitter Jim Ryder of La Pointe.
There is a lot more to being Miss Wisconsin than just riding around in parades and waving at the crowd.
Sometimes you need to be photographed in a bikini in a sauna; sometimes the picture taking is out on the ice of Lake Superior on a dogsled.
It's all grist for the mill of current Miss Wisconsin, Tracy Gest, 20, of Menomonie Falls, who spent three days this week in the Bay Area, engaged in promotional activities for local businesses as part of her year-long reign.
"It's the farthest north I've ever been," she said Friday, in between appointments.
She said her time in the area has been "an adventure," even getting her feet wet during a sled dog demonstration on the ice of Lake Superior near Bayfield.
The event had been planned as a sled dog outing and photo shoot, but deteriorating ice conditions caused cancellation of the excursion.
"I was really looking forward to that," she said. "But it was a lot of fun just to be able to pose in a dogsled; that is something very different."
Gest said she, and her first runner up, Alexandra Kealey, who accompanied her on the trip have been warmly welcomed in the area.
"It's fantastic to be here, the city of Ashland has welcomed us with open arms," she said.
Her hosts for the visit have included Superior Sauna and Cabin and Ashland's Mobile Connection Cellular One dealership. She also made a public appearance at the Chequamegon Health and Fitness Center. Gest said it's been a busy visit, but one in keeping with her duties as Miss Wisconsin.
"There is a lot more going on behind the scenes that people just don't realize," she said.
It's a year-long lifestyle Gest says she is thoroughly enjoying. She is taking a year off from her college studies at Carroll College, where she is a junior, working towards a bachelor's degree in communications. She hopes one day to serve as a public relations spokesperson for a large company.
"This is an internship that just can't be matched," she said. "What better way to learn than to actually learn from life experience."
Once finished in Ashland, Gest is slated to visit Eau Claire where she will speak on diabetes awareness, her formal public service platform as Miss Wisconsin.
"My father has had diabetes for 49 years, so it's something I have a personal interest in," she said.
Gest trained with the American Diabetes Association to speak on the topic; she has also served as a diabetes camp assistant. She will also attend a number of Drug Awareness Resistance Education (DARE) graduations. "I'm a motivational speaker for these children, speaking about healthy lifestyles," she said.
And, yes, indeed, she does wave in parades.
"There is a glamour aspect to being Miss Wisconsin, but It's really a speaking tour for one year," she said.
She has also helped to raise funds for child abuse prevention, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.
"It's a busy time," she said.
Gest's tour of duty as Miss Wisconsin ends in three months.
"It's hard to believe," she said. "It's been a fantastic career; they are going to have to fight me to get the crown off my head. I've gotten a great opportunity to tour Wisconsin. It's a beautiful state, but it's the people who make it a special and unique place."
Gest said once her term is finished, she plans to go back to Carroll College and complete her degree.
I will graduate next May, that's the next big thing," she said.

Weekend Winners

This past weekend was filled with several new representatives for Wisconsin. I would like all of you to know that I am proud of each of you. Miss Western Wisconsin, Miss Wisconsin West, Miss Midwest, Miss Beloit, and Miss Mississippi Valley were all crowned on Saturday.

I had the opportunity to travel to Beloit to see Sara take on the Miss Beloit title. She was one of eleven to compete. Sara also won the talent award and was voted Miss Congeniality. Congratulations to all of the young women who competed. What is important for everyone to remember is that we do not determine our success based on whether we win the title or not, but rather on how we handle ourselves and what we take from each experience. I learned some of the most important lessons from not winning.

Marci, I would like to sincerely congratulate you on your accomplishment. I am very proud of you. Marci and I had the opportunity to become really good friends because we held titles together last year. She was Miss West Allis and I was Miss New Berlin. Marci will be returning to Miss Wisconsin this summer. The best of luck to you with all of your future endeavors.
As March almost comes to a close, we have only a few more representatives that need to be chosen. To everyone, good luck in your preparations!!

Miss Beloit crown passes to Siekierski

The 2006 Miss Beloit Pageant theme was “a little bit country, a little bit rock'n roll,” but Saturday night, Sara Siekierski was every bit royalty.The annual pageant began with the contestants in cowboy hats, and in the end it was Siekierski who wore the Miss Beloit crown.A visibly stunned Siekierski threw her hands over her face as Miss Beloit 2005 Kayleigh Brancamp pinned on the tiara. The sophomore at University of Wisconsin - Rock County was already glowing, just having been named Miss Congeniality along with fellow contestant Sha-Nita Rhea.As the lights dimmed and fans filed out of the Beloit Memorial High School Theater, Siekierski was surrounded by the 10 other young women contestants, all graciously offering their hugs and congratulations.
“I'm in shock,” she gasped. “I'm so happy.”The talent during the night had ranged from gymnastic tumbles to vocal solos and Siekierski acknowledged she was up against a lot of accomplished women.“The competition was just excellent,” she said.After an opening performance of the National Anthem by Miss Beloit Pageant President Eddie Farr and a welcome from emcee Gregory Bridges, the Miss Beloit contestants performed an ensemble dance number - a mix of country line dancing and rock ‘n roll swing.Then it was on to the competition when the ladies exhibited their swim wear and then changed for the talent portion of the contest.Fans in the packed auditorium encouraged them with cheers. Contestant Brittany Andrews' younger brother, Max, wore a shirt that read “good luck sissy,” and her best friend Nicole Oates was confident she would do well.Vickie Cole was at the pageant to support her niece, Sha-Nita Rhea, and her cousin, Darneeshia Lana'e McShan.“I'm rootin' for everybody,” she laughed.Farr, who worked with the women in preparation for the big night, was perhaps the proudest.“It was a lot of work, but I was willing to do it,” he said, adding that the girls were “absolutely wonderful” to work with.“They got along very well,” he said.Siekierski sang “On My Own,” from the musical drama Les Miserables. Shontia Croft performed a theatrical solo selection from “Miss Celie's Blues.” Jaimie Goecks performed a dramatic monologue excerpted from “Our Town.” Naomi Martindale demonstrated cheerleading. Michelle Belke tap danced to “Mambo No. 5.” Darneeshia McShan sang “The One I Gave My Heart To.” Sha-Nita Rhea sang “Reflection.” Lindy Treptow performed “Amazing Grace” on the clarinet. Brittany Andrews did a gymnastic routine. LaFonda Richardson performed a hip-hop number. Portia Hunter recited the poem “Phenomenal Woman.”The women then reappeared in their radiant evening gowns to answer questions about their advocacy platforms. They mentioned such issues as teen pregnancy, violence, cancer research and animal abuse.Siekierski's platform is prevention of underage drinking - a stance she will develop for the Miss Wisconsin pageant in June.Saturday's contest was punctuated by appearances from other Wisconsin royalty, including, among others, Miss Wisconsin, Tracy Gest, who performed two piano solos and Miss Wisconsin's Outstanding Teen, Tonya Popowski, who gave a baton twirling performance. A few former Miss Beloits, including Miss Beloit 2004 Megan Hendee, also crossed the stage.Brancamp sang two solos and then gave her farewell, in which she reflected upon her experience at the Miss Wisconsin pageant and thanked Beloit for a great year as its queen.A troupe of future Miss Beloits from Rising Star Dance Studio performed to “I Believe.”The evening culminated in the crowing of the winner. Bridges reminded all of the young women of their worth and accomplishments, saying they were all winners that night.The fourth runner up was Belke; third runner up was Rhea, second runner up was Richardson and first runner up was Treptow.Andrews won the award for most ads sold for the pageant's brochure. Belke won an award for most pageant tickets sold. The Billy Amundsen Scholarship, sponsored by Bryden Motors and Miss Beloit 1990 and former Miss Wisconsin Stephanie Klett, went to Treptow.The $200 talent award went to Siekierski; the non-finalist talent award went to Hunter and Andrews; the non-finalist interview award went to Hunter; the lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit award went to Treptow; the chairman's award Goecks.As young women were whisked away to the coronation ceremony, Siekierski's supporters were glowing with pride.Parents Mark and Sue Siekierski and Sara's brother Dan were accompanied by aunts and uncles and others in cheering for her.“I'm crying, I'm happy,” Sue said. “This is just a (great) year for her.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Last weekend I attended the reception of the Miss New Berlin/Miss West Allis pageant. It was wonderful seeing how many individuals came to support Sarah Seegert,Meghan Coffey, and all of the contestants. They all did a phenomenal job.

But, at the reception I met up with Joel Andelman, the director of the Miss Fox River Valley pageant and his wife Marilyn. We have had a great year getting to know one another. Before I left for the Miss America pageant last month they both attended my send off party. They left giving me some very encouraging and inspirational words. Joel and Marilyn are unbelievable individuals who will do just about anything for anyone, no questions asked.

At the reception on Saturday, Joel and Marilyn arrived with an extremely large package. Never in my mind did I think the gift was for me. Joel then approached me and said he had something small for me. I had no idea what it was for; he simply said they had wanted to give it to me because they knew I would love it.

There is something people need to know about me before I tell you what it was. In my room I have Miss America memorabilia. I have two different Miss America Barbie dolls, several of the collector’s additions of the beanie bears, pins, and a few Miss America books. What was inside this box was the most perfect addition to my collection. It was the Marie Osmond collector’s doll! When I removed the tissue paper, I just went crazy… I could have cried.

Joel and Marilyn, I thank you both from the bottom of my heart. She is the best gift I have ever received and a magnificent addition to my collection. Thank you again.