Sunday, June 11 I packed up my rusted out Jeep Liberty as I’ve done the past few years and departed for Oshkosh. Praying, but truthfully unaware of how my life would change for the better over the course of the next two weeks…Sunday, also dubbed as “Miss Wisconsin Arrival Day” consists of all the contestants and their directors delivering their competition items to Oshkosh West High School’s backstage auditorium and greeting one another with lots of hugs and photo opts. before heading to the Comfort Suites to check in to our ‘home’ for the week!
Following check-in we had a closed rehearsal in the hotel, giving us a chance to get to know our new production crew while learning and refining the opening number routine for the show! A huge thank you to Visit Oshkosh for their wonderful welcome bags filled with goodies for all of the contestants!Monday, June 11 came rather early, as my roomie, Kate and I got up around 6 a.m. to get ready for closed rehearsal at UW-Oshkosh’s Rec Center followed by a lunch hosted by the Shriner’s. This lunch has been and will forever be one of my favorite parts of Miss Wisconsin week as veterans from the Wisconsin Veterans Home at King (located on the Chain O’Lakes in Waupaca – one of my favorite spots in the entire state) take a bus to join us as well. My veteran’s name was Gary (which just so happens to be my father’s name as well, good vibes only). He informed me that he served in both the Army and Marines and recently received an award for his more than 10,000 hours of volunteer work at the veterans home – that my friends, is true inspiration and dedication to service!After our lunch, we returned to UW-Oshkosh for another closed rehearsal before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the Merchant’s Dinner. This is a fancy, cocktail dinner held at The Waters restaurant. It provides an opportunity for sponsors and community members to see all of the contestants, board members, and judges while enjoying one another’s company and the delicious food is certainly an added bonus.
Tuesday and Wednesday were filled with more rehearsals as the first group of candidates had their private, ten minute interviews with the judging panel on Tuesday morning (and my group had talent practice on stage). My interview took place Wednesday morning just before 9 a.m. After doing a warm-up mock interview with a dear friend, I listened to the one and only Vince Lombardi’s “Winning isn’t a sometime thing” speech and walked downstairs from my hotel room to the holding room. Naturally, I paced back and forth, fidgeting with my curls, and respraying them over and over again before I finally set my spray down and told myself I needed to stop.
My interview began with the judges asking me about trade jobs, which transitioned into a conversation about soft skills and Governor Walker’s ‘student success’ campaign. We chatted about gun control regulations, my newfound love for hunting (and how I built the plaque for my antlers that are hanging beside my bed), and I candidly opened up about my eight year journey within this program. I walked out of that interview room having laid my heart and soul out in that short, ten minute time frame. I was relieved, excited, and eagerly wanting more…Prelims night #1 entailed me competing in Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear followed by On-Stage Question. My months of increasing up my lifting routine and actually discovering a passion for lifting weights and squatting had paid off in that moment alone. I felt so confident and determined as I strutted my stuff on that stage! I know the Miss America Organization is undergoing many changes (another blog post for another time), but I will confidently say I’ve never once felt degraded during the swimsuit phase of competition and I’m elated to have been a part of the tradition. However, with that being said, I’m also very excited to see what these changes mean in terms of placing a stronger emphasis on a women’s accomplishments and advocacy efforts.
Prelims night #2 took place on Thursday evening. That night, my group and I competed in Talent and Evening Gown. I’m not sure why, but I always get the most anxious for performing my talent on stage. Perhaps it’s the notion that as a dancer, you’re never quite 100 percent sure what state the floor will be in (is it too slippery, is it sticky at all, will I hit the right spots on stage, etc.). Nonetheless, I took a deep breath and said a prayer before taking the stage to start my routine. As soon as I completed my dance, I stepped of stage and collapsed with pure joy into the arms of Miss Fond du Lac as I felt an overwhelming sense of contentment and elation.Friday fun-day started with a new, Miss Wisconsin Strikes Back bowling event which replaced the golf outing that was held the past couple years. As much as I love golfing, this provided an interactive outlet for everyone while keeping us candidates inside (out of the fresh air and sun) as to conserve energy…which at that point in the week is desperately needed and sincerely appreciated. I got more than five strikes (it was nine pin bowling, don’t let me fool you) and even broke 100 the final round…
The Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen pageant was held on Friday night at Oshkosh West High School. Rounding out a great day and a relaxing one at that for the Miss candidates because it’s kind of a ‘down’ day in terms of our schedule. We got to sleep in a little later than other days earlier in the week, went to the bowling event, and then got ready to cheer on our teens – taking a different perspective on the stage by sitting in the audience as spectators for a change.And before I knew it we were back at the hotel, slightly wet from the torrential downpour and more than ready for a good night’s rest before ‘the big day.’
To be continued…