LINCOLNTON – With less than a month until the 41st annual Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Scholarship Pageant, the Lincolnton Business and Professional Women’s Club (BPW) has introduced the 13 young ladies set to vie for the crown.
The pageant is open to girls no older than 23, but are at least rising high school seniors, and all contestants must be Lincoln County residents. While no one is turned away, there is an entry form that must be filled out in order to compete.
“The entry forms are given to our judges, and they use them to develop questions for their interviews with the girls,” Pageant Director Erica Miller said. “The form asks about their extracurriculars and their hobbies, and also includes a 150-word essay about why they want to be the Apple Queen and what they would do if they won. That helps the judges guide their interviews so the girls can be a little more comfortable with the questions asked.”
With the field for this year’s pageant set, the contestants have hit the ground running with their preparation for the live show. The Lincolnton BPW plays a significant role in helping the contestants prepare for each aspect of the pageant.
“Since it’s a scholarship pageant, we don’t want it to be where the typical pageant girl comes in and wins, hands down,” Miller said. “We offer the girls modeling practice, and we just held an interview workshop at the Cultural Center, where we work on how to present yourself during the interview, how to answer the questions and how to speak clearly while on stage. We want every girl to feel equally prepared, whether they have pageant experience or not.”
The interview, which lasts eight minutes and is conducted privately backstage, is the most critical aspect of the pageant, accounting for 40 percent of the overall score.
“I think the girls are most intimidated by the interview, which is done panel-style with one girl talking to all five judges at once,” Miller said. “But once they get the practice, I think they find the interview to be the easiest part of the pageant to master because we can teach them how to be confident and make eye contact while speaking, and that’s a pretty easy thing to learn.”
The pageant also includes an on-stage question, and while it only counts for 10 percent of the overall score, it’s more difficult to prepare for.
“A lot of the girls get really nervous about the on-stage question,” Miller said. “High school students and younger adults haven’t had a lot of opportunities to speak publicly, and while we can throw a million questions at them during our practices, they aren’t answering in front of all the people who will be in the audience on the night of the pageant. It’s the only experience that we can’t really rehearse with them beforehand.”
Other aspects of the pageant include opportunities for the contestants to model swimsuits and evening gowns, which each account for 20 percent of their total score. That leaves 10 percent for the community service presentation, a portion of the pageant that’s new this year.
“The presentation is essentially a booklet that we’ve asked the girls to put together,” Miller said. “It’s intended to show the judges how they’ve given back to their community throughout their lives, and how they plan to impact the community if they win. We decided to add this as another way to incorporate the scholarship aspect of the pageant.”
As a scholarship pageant, the Lincolnton BPW awards $8,000 in scholarship funding, with $3,000 given to the winner. Scholarships are also awarded to the first three runners-up, as well as the contestant selected as “Miss Congeniality.” The pageant also includes an essay contest, with the winner earning the Noël Beam Howard Memorial Scholarship.
The Miss Lincoln County Apple Queen Scholarship Pageant is set for 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the James W. Warren Citizens Center.