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Local princesses crowned in annual Dawson County pageants
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Left to right: Roger Slaton Memorial Scholarship recipient Wendi Uribe Castro, Emma Harper, Jordan Bush, Miss Dawson Carah Matheson, Layne Bailey, Jules Phillips and Daisy Vargas-Sanchez. (Photos courtesy of DCHS FCCLA)

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. 

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Left to right: Odeya Hudgins, Kori Leigh Davis, Tiny Miss Dawson Khloie Ray, Gracie Tolbert, Birdie Elizabeth Bearden and Ellie Johnson. (Photos courtesy of DCHS FCCLA)

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.” 

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Left to right: Emily Young, Aurora Rose Duren, Little Miss Dawson Lila Grace Hawkins, Kailee Tolbert and Bella Williams. (Photos courtesy of DCHS FCCLA)

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

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Left to right: Georgia Galt, Kendall Reece Keeney, Junior Miss Dawson KeyLeigh Hope Gilleland, Ruby Holmes and Emma Kate Castleberry. (Photos courtesy of DCHS FCCLA)

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 

Miss Dawson 

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Dozens of DCHS FCCLA members and officers volunteered their time and efforts to help the pageants happen. (Photos courtesy of DCHS FCCLA)

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