This past weekend, Dawson County girls of all ages were given the chance to compete for the title of “Miss Dawson County” during the county’s annual beauty pageants.
The pageants were put on by Dawson County High School’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club, in partnership with the DCHS Tiger Choir. According to FCCLA Advisor Lori Grant, this year’s pageants were extremely successful.
“This is the fourth year FCCLA has been a part of it and each year just keeps getting better and better,” Grant said. “I felt like our kids really know what we need and they take pride in it.”
Two of the students in the FCCLA program who helped to plan, organize and execute the pageants were FCCLA co-presidents Avery Yarbrough and Madelyn Lee.
The pair started helping plan the pageants back in September and came up with some unique ways of advertising them, including dressing up to open car doors and hand out flyers during parent-drop off at the middle and elementary schools, distributing signs at all of the schools, participating in the city’s annual Christmas parade and talking to other students during lunch at the high school.
“We wanted to get more people to do it so we were trying to think of creative ways to make that happen and ways to grab more peoples’ attention,” Lee said.
And their efforts paid off: this year 68 contestants signed up for the pageants, a 20-person increase over last year’s number of 48. This year’s number included 25 Tiny Miss contestants, 15 Little Miss contestants, 8 Junior Miss contestants and 20 Miss contestants.
“We put so much work into it but it was so worth it — it was just so much fun,” Yarbrough said. “It was so much hard work and then when we were there watching the girls walk out it was so exciting to see it all come together.”
For Lee, her favorite part was seeing so many people come together to help make it happen.
“I loved working with a lot of different people and having a common goal to work toward,” Lee said.
This year, the group also added two new “pageant clinics” to give contestants a chance to prepare ahead of time and to learn tips from past Miss Dawson County winners.
They also offered the second annual Roger Slaton Scholarship of $1000 to one of the contestants.
“We offered the Roger Slaton scholarship again; I know several girls, about 8 of them, applied for the scholarship because that’s $1000,” Grant said. “The girl that got it was so excited that she got it and that’s going to help her in college.”
In addition to helping boost pageant contestant numbers, the hard work the FCCLA members put into advertising the pageant also helped to increase club membership, which is currently at about 90 students. Proceeds from the pageant go to help offset fees for FCCLA members to participate in competitions, so it really comes full circle, Grant said.
She added that the pageants couldn’t have happened without several community members, including former Miss Dawson County Brittany Gilreath who emceed the competition, DCSO’s Randy Harkness who provided security and several other businesses and individuals who volunteered their time and resources.
“It takes a village, and we just have the best little village in Dawson County,” Grant said.
This year’s winners in each category were:
Tiny Miss Dawson
Winner: Khloie Ray
First runner up: Kori Leigh Davis
Second runner up: Gracie Tolbert
Third runner up: Odeya Hudgins
Fourth runner up: Birdie Elizabeth Bearden
People’s choice: Ellie Johnson
Little Miss Dawson
Winner: Lila Grace Hawkins
First runner up: Aurora Rose Duren
Second runner up: Kailee Tolbert
Third runner up: Emily Young
Fourth runner up and people’s choice: Bella Williams
Junior Miss Dawson
Winner: KeyLeigh Hope Gilleland
First runner up: Kendall Reece Keeney
Second runner up and people’s choice: Ruby Holmes
Third runner up: Georgia Galt
Fourth runner up: Emma Kate Castleberry
Winner: Carah Matheson
First runner up: Jordan Bush
Second runner up: Layne Bailey
Third runner up: Emma Harper
Fourth runner up: Jules Phillips
People’s choice:Daisy Vargas-Sanchez
Roger Slaton Memorial Scholarship recipient: Wendi Uribe Castro