The music is cued and the spotlights are up. Cheers echo off the historic walls of the Frauenthal Theater in Muskegon as friends and family of each contestant wave signs and noisemakers cheering for their favorite girl. As the curtains rise, it is at that moment that the butterflies let loose and we are that much closer to crowning a new Miss Michigan.
Each one of these young women have worked their whole lives at sculpting their intellect, morals and talent making them incredible contenders for the crown. As I look around backstage, I can see a wide range of emotions from nervous jitters to beaming smiles. I remember being in those shoes a few short years ago and this year I am honored to soak it all up again as the emcee.
Logistically, all the contestants participated in a ten minute private interview with the judges on Tuesday where they were drilled on questions about politics, current events, community service and more. It is nothing short of a nail-biting press conference. Wednesday and Thursday nights are the preliminary competitions where each contestant takes the stage competing in talent, swimsuit, evening gown and onstage question. After the 31 contestants compete in all phases of competition the field will be narrowed to ten who will re-compete in all of the onstage components of the competition, ultimately being narrowed down to five, then one… Miss Michigan 2011.
The question of the week is: Who will she be?
As a former Miss Michigan, I can tell you that everyone has their theories. It is sort of like playing roulette; some people play numbers for personal reasons (birthdays, etc.), while others play numbers because of their location on the wheel and so on. Of course family and friends think “their girl” is going to win, but of course others base it on talents, looks, how they answered their question but in reality it is much more complex than a certain theory. To try to put it simply, your Miss Michigan should be the most well-rounded contestant. Who can relate to corporate executives, her peers and children? She should be able to relate to people on all levels and also be able to represent her state well competitively at the Miss America pageant.
So, you may ask, who do I think is going to win? Well that is still undecided. I may have more of an inkling after preliminary competitions are complete, but what keeps the surprise at great suspense is that none of us get to see the interview each contestant had with the judges which accounts for a large portion of their overall score. So in saying that, even as a former Miss Michigan, my hunch could be wrong, but that is the beauty of pageantry. Who doesn’t like surprises?
In case you are keeping track, here is a recap of the preliminary awards from the first night of competition:
Lifestyle & Fitness in Swimsuit – Miss Lady of the Lakes, Cameron Learman
Stay tuned for details on the second night of preliminary competition.
Until next time -
Ashlee Baracy Miss Michigan 2008