BELDING — With 30 young women competing in three different categories in a contest that lasted 3 1/2 hours, it was Sarah Thompson, who, in the end, walked away with the crown, sash and title of Miss Belding.
Thompson, 16, the daughter of Robert Thompson and Jennifer Thompson, vied against five other contestants in the 2013 Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant at the Belding Performing Arts Center Saturday evening.
“I’m speechless. I wasn’t expecting this at all,” said Thompson, moments after being crowned. All six contestants tied for the Miss Congeniality Award, and will split the $50 cash prize.
Thompson, as Miss Belding, earned a $750 scholarship sponsored by the Miss Belding Scholarship Pageant, $500 from Verdun Funeral Home and $500 from Independent Bank.
The six girls competed in different phases of competition, including a private interview, talent, evening wear and two on-stage questions.
“The most difficult part were the questions,” said Thompson, who previously won the Junior Miss Belding 2011 crown. “That is scary because you don’t know what they are going to ask you.”
Formal wear and on-stage questions counted as 30 percent of the total score.
Thompson was asked if she believes extracurricular activities are important outside the classroom, and answered she did, saying they give you something else to think about to get your mind off things. Her second question concerned the damage and destruction done to local historical bridges and how she would prevent other historical buildings from the same fate. Thompson said she would raise awareness of the value of the historical sites, and start a fundraising campaign to have funding to fix buildings if they were to get damaged.
For 35 percent of the total, talent was a crucial piece. Contestants sang, danced and made lattés, while Thompson performed an expressive monologue titled “Tomorrow’s Wish.”
“I like doing the talent portion best because mine was a little goofy, and I could just go out there and be myself,” said Thompson.
Pageant Director Rebecca Bozung said Thompson and her court will be as visible as possible at the upcoming Labor Day Celebration. They will also participate in numerous parades, community events, Gus Macker, reading programs at the elementary school and library and will make other appearances throughout the year-long reign.
Court members include Miss Belding First Runner-up Courtney Richmond, 17, the daughter of Larry and Tami Richmond; Junior Miss Belding Kaylynn McQuillan, the daughter of Mark and Marsha McQuillan; Junior Miss Belding court member Alexis Cahill, the daughter of Mike Cahill and Anna Wagar; Young Miss Belding Lauren Barker, the daughter of Charles Barker and Carmin Barker; Young Miss Belding court member Tara Rackham, the daughter of Matt and Sharmel Rackham.
McQuillan also earned the Young/Junior Miss Congeniality award and Karah Ring, the daughter of Kyle Ring and Melissa Mull, garnered the Top Fundraiser award.
Reigning as the Kiddie King is Reese Houghton, the son of Christopher and Brenda Houghton and Kiddie Queen is Audrey Belding, the daughter of Christ and Andrea Belding.
The largest pageant in history, with 15 Junior Miss, nine Young Miss, and six Miss Belding contestants, Bozung was pleased with interest in the program.
“I was so impressed to see so many taking those first steps into the pageant life,” she said, “It possibly means many of them will be coming back to try again next year.”
Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.