Following some uncertainty about the event’s future last week, school officials have announced the annual Miss Tullahoma pageant will go on this year and next.
Thanks to a last-minute surge of entries, Pageant Director Sharon Woodard said the event received enough participants to continue. There was also enough interest to warrant planning the pageant for 2019, she said.
In total there are just under 60 girls participating in the three levels of the Miss Tullahoma pageants, Woodard said.
“We have 30 for the high school, 10 for the Little Miss and 17 for the Junior Miss [Tullahoma],” she said, though she was expecting a few more late entries to occur on Monday and Tuesday.
Woodard and other pageant volunteers were concerned earlier this month that not enough people would sign up for the pageant, thus prompting a potential cancellation of the annual tradition.
Over the last decade or so, Woodard said she had seen dramatic reductions in pageant participation and worried that the school tradition would cease to exist.
Woodard said a societal shift away from beauty pageants over the last several years that was a contributing factor, and Facebook comments on The News’ previous story about the possible cancellation of the event, echo that sentiment.
Another component of the pageant that seemed to be “scaring some of the girls off,” Woodard said, was the question-and-answer portion of the evening.
In order to calm prospective contestants’ nerves, she said, several years ago Miss Tullahoma organizers began providing a list of possible questions to each entrant ahead of time so they can prepare their responses.
Additionally, Woodard said, the question portion of the pageant is designed in such a way that it cannot negatively affect a girl’s score.
“If you have done well, and everything has been perfect up to that point, the question cannot keep you from becoming Miss Tullahoma,” she said.
If anything, she said, the question portion serves as more of a pseudo-tiebreaker for contestants who have similar scores toward the end of the night.
“If you and another girl or two are really close in the scoring, then it could bump you up to the next place,” Woodard said.
It’s all a part of the “poise and polish” the pageants are designed to promote, she said.
The questions cover a wide breadth of topics, including some more serious and some more silly, according to Woodard.
“We do some fun questions sometimes, like, ‘If you were a hamburger, which part of the hamburger would you be?’” she said.
The answers could be anything, such as the pickle or the bun, and contestants can create a fun story as their answer.
More serious and school-related topics could include critiques of the High School 101 program for freshmen students, for example, she said.
The questions don’t get too involved in national politics, however, as this is a local fundraiser and event organizers want to keep things lighthearted and fun.
Woodard said she does plan to try to keep the pageant going into 2019, though there will be some changes to the signup procedures.
Rather than have entrants continue to register so close to the event, Woodard said she will probably try to have earlier signups, with the cut-off date taking place sometime in either late January or the middle of February.
The advance notice should help get contestants interested to sign up early and confirm their place during the event. It should also help any interested girls have enough time to buy or borrow a dress and prepare for the pageant.
If there isn’t enough interest by the end of February, however, Woodard said the pageant will probably not happen.
As of now, Woodard said the 2019 pageant is scheduled to take place on April 13, a month earlier than this year’s event.
The date change was made possible by the altered school calendar, which decreases the fall and spring breaks by a few days.
“We’ve lost one of our weeks of vacation,” she said, “so that helps [the scheduling].”
While the two weeks of spring break were nice, Woodard said, it made scheduling the pageant rather difficult.
“It made the schedule really tight in the spring,” she said, but the reduced spring break helped to “open up some dates” for spring events.
This year’s Miss Tullahoma pageant will take place this Saturday, May 19 in the Tullahoma High School auditorium.
Tickets for the event are $10 each and will be available for purchase by the public at the THS cafeteria lobby from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, May 17 and 18, and will also be available at the door.
The Junior Miss Tullahoma pageant begins at 2 p.m., followed by the Little Miss Tullahoma pageant at 4:30 p.m.
The Miss Tullahoma pageant will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.