GREENVILLE — Emily Smith was 13 years old when she was crowned Young Miss Danish Festival 2008, and she knew then one day she wanted to be Miss Danish Festival.
That dream came true when she won the coveted crown at the Miss Danish Festival Pageant Saturday evening at the Greenville Performing Arts Center.
“I knew I wanted to do the pageant, but I had to wait four years until I made the age requirements,” said Smith, now 17, the daughter of Daniel and Mari Smith, of the Miss America Scholarship program open to young women ages 17-24.
No stranger to the stage, Smith wowed the audience in the artistic expression in talent portion with her operatic vocal performance of “Convien Partier,” which counted as 35 percent of the total score. She also won the judges’ interview category, which comprises 25 percent.
“I thought the interview was the most difficult part because there are so many topics the judges can question you about,” said Smith, who will begin her senior year at Greenville High School.
Rounding out the phases of competition are lifestyle and physical fitness, where Smith sported a turquoise bikini; presence and poise in evening wear, where she donned a one-shoulder fuchsia satin gown; and onstage question, where she spoke on an anti-bullying documentary that coincided with her platform of “Changing Hearts, Changing Lives,” an anti-bullying initiative.
“As Miss Danish Festival, Emily will attend the opening ceremony on Thursday, the Fairy Tale Parade on Friday, the Grand Parade on Saturday and the children’s events on Sunday and as many other events as possible throughout the weekend,” said Julie Stephens, who directed her final pageant after serving nine years with the Danish Festival queen’s pageant.
Ricki Rood, 17, earned the honor of first runner up and the lifestyle and fitness award, while Meagan Draper, also 17, was named second runner-up. Erica Anderson, 21, won the Lindsey McBride Spirit Award.
The youngest members of the court were Prince Braylon Haist, 5, the son of Mark and Trisha Haist; and Princess Skylee Aldridge, 5, the daughter of Bruce and Jazmine Aldridge.
Earlier on Saturday, 11 contestants vied for the title of Junior Miss Danish Festival 2012 and five young women competed for Young Miss Danish Festival 2012. Alexa Neumann, 12, was named Junior Miss Danish Festival while her first runner up was Hannah Grant, 12. Dannah Gunn, 13, will reign as Young Miss 2012 and Mariah Meier, will serve as Young Miss first runner up.
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.