It’s hard to believe, but the second night of preliminary competition for Miss North Carolina and Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen is already done!
The night got off to a great start, with Amanda Watson Bailey, Miss North Carolina 2008, providing a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and another presentation of that fabulous opening number/contestant introduction from last night.
Speaking of last night, since then, some front-runners have already become obvious. Miss Greater Southeastern, Victoria Huggins; Miss Spivey’s Corner, Rahmeka Cox; Miss Garner, Rachel Chavez; Miss Goldsboro, Victoria Baskett, Miss Greater Sampson County, Emily Tucker; and Miss Queen City, McKenzie Faggart (last night’s swimsuit winner) are already generating a lot of pageant-buzz in the Miss division.
Of course, with any scholarship pageant, especially one as major as this one, there’s really no telling who the winners will be until the big decision Saturday night. With that said, Cox came on a little too strong in her introduction while Baskett is noticeably maintaining poise and grace during every moment on the stage, even those “non-judged” moments.
Speaking of poise, emcee Kirsten Elrod looked exceptional in her first (of two) pink gown of the evening. She and fellow-emcee Richard Green of Time Warner Cable News seem to have developed a cute, energetic rapport over the last day or so, making them and their jokey-banter style of emceeing even more fun than it was last night.
Competition for the evening kicked off with onstage question for the Miss division. Miss Central Carolina, Rachel Gebelein, was asked about whether or not she equated gay rights with civil rights. And, though she spoke too fast, she spoke, and spoke well, in support of gay rights, a nice change for the usually conservative south.
Similarly, Miss Greater Sandhills, Taylor Batten, spoke in favor of a woman’s right to choose, and she also evoked emotion after being asked if she would shave her head in support of her platform, The Vs. Cancer Foundation. Nearing tears, Batten described how she had talked about this very issue with a child cancer sufferer she worked with during her community service work. The child, who ultimately recovered from cancer, urged her not to shave her head since her hair was beautiful, but Batten said, genuinely, that she would if she felt it would make a difference to others.
Of course, not everyone can nail onstage question. When asked about Rachel Dolezal’s parents and whether they’d made the right decision in outing their daughter, Miss Greater Cape Fear, Paige Adkins, chose her words poorly, saying that the parents had chosen wisely and that Dolezal should “live up” to being Caucasian. She also, when asked about her eating disorder-related platform, explained how she’d been “blessed not to have to watch what I eat.”
In a similar vein, Tricia Johnson, Miss Mount Holly, completely dodged a question, related to her “Fostering Hope” platform, which encourages people to become foster parents, related to how she would tackle the problem of poorly-equipped people becoming foster parents just for the funding. She rambled about how she hoped everyone could become the person she is today and how all children, especially foster children, need love and support.
To end this section on a more positive note, however, Katie Archer, Miss Randolph County, did stand up, during her onstage question, for the right of those not born female to be able to compete in the Miss America pageant.
Though not everyone aced onstage question, it must be said that this is an extremely difficult area in which to compete, so all of the contestants, even those who stumbled, should be cut some slack.
Following onstage question, the Carolina Princesses entertained with a cute dance number, leading into the Teen Lifestyle and Fitness competition. Some of the competitors tonight were sloppy and spastic in their presentation of the fitness routine, while others, like Miss Shelby’s Outstanding Teen, Makensie McDaniel, nailed it.
After onstage question, Outstanding Teens graced the stage again in evening wear and onstage question. Tonight’s gowns were a figurative sea of strapless blues; standing out amongst the “sea,” however, were Kaitlyn Royal, Miss Greater Cape Fear, in a lovely blue and white number that featured gorgeous stones; Carlie Powell, Miss Kinston-Lenoir’s Outstanding Teen, in a stunning, gradient-style pink and white gown; Miss Goldsboro’s Outstanding Teen, Katherine White, in a black and white number with an amazing, glittering back; and Ashley Brooke Daniels, Miss Greater Sampson County’s Outstanding Teen, in a unique black and white gown.
Next up was the swimsuit competition for the Miss contestants, and tonight’s competitors really rocked the stage. Miss Greater Southeastern, Victoria Huggins, was stunning in a purple suit while Miss Statesville, Katie Knowles, rocked it in a strappy blue number. Other standouts included Tori Mangum, Miss Rowan County, and Kacy Lee, Miss Capital City. The lovely Rachel Chavez, Miss Garner, also deserves a mention for rocking the first one-piece of the competition.
Following swimsuit was the Outstanding Teen talent competition. Everyone seemed to love Miss Stanly County’s Outstanding Teen, Briley Lafollette’s clogging routine to a Michael Jackson remix- definitely a crowdpleaser. Other standouts included Miss Greater Sandhills’ Outstanding Teen, Megan Huff, with her gorgeous vocal performance, done in a perfectly sweet, bubblegum pink dress; Miss Dunn’s Outstanding Teen, Vanessa Prestage, with her cute clogging routine to Prince’s much-beloved “Kiss”; and Miss Fayetteville’s Outstanding Teen, Meri-Morgan Lochner, with her fiddle performance of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.”
Afterwards, Karson Fair, the current Miss North Carolina’s Outstanding Teen, performed an emotional dance to spoken word, leading up to the Miss Evening Gown competition. Favorites from this stage of competition include Miss Greater Sandhills, Taylor Batten in a soft, white, off-the-shoulder gown; and Miss Greater Cape Fear, Paige Adkins, is a gorgeous, deep-blue, heavily-sequined number.
Rounding out the evening was the Miss Talent competition, and wow- talk about a tough decision for the judges. Miss Moore County, Sami McDaniel did a great job on the piano, while Miss Blue Ridge Valley, Erika Duckworth, entertained with her fun-but-predictable clogging routine to “Proud Mary.” One also couldn’t help but love Miss Fayetteville, Comfort Johnson’s vocal performance of “You’re Gonna Love Me,” but the obvious standout of the night was Miss Greater Sampson County, Emily Tucker’s operatic performance.
After talent, the reigning Miss North Carolina, Beth Stovall, gave a hearfelt and tearful thanks to her art teachers, who played a huge role in the platform she has dedicated herself to this year. Her kind thanks were demonstrative of what a gracious and wonderful Miss North Carolina she has been this year.
Then, it was time for the best part of the evening- awards!
Wayne Edwards, of the Miss Spivey’s Corner program, was named the local volunteer of the year for 2015.
Miss Statesville Katie Knowles and Miss Spivey’s Corner Rahmeka Cox tied for the Lifestyle and Fitness award, while Greater Sampson County’s Emily Tucker garnered the evening’s Talent award.
Miss Johnston County’s Outstanding Teen, Whitley Naylor, was awarded the MNCOTeen Evening Gown and On-Stage Question Award. Miss Greater Sandhills’ Outstanding Teen, Megan Huff, took home the Talent Award for the MNCOTeen division.
Tonight was yet another exciting night…one that proved it’s really going to be a shocker come Saturday. While there are some obvious women-to-watch, this is far from a year with a clear winner. Your guess, pageant-fans, is as good as mine!!