Miss Finger Lakes/Upstate New York2013

The Miss Finger Lakes pageant has always been one of my favorites (perhaps because it was my first Miss America local), but this year is possibly better than the last two. Since the Miss Greater Rochester pageant is taking a year off, and there are so few preliminaries for upstate girls, the Moss Finger Lakes pageant decided to not only expand the eligibility from “central New York” to “upstate New York”, but also adopted the Miss Upstate crown. Rayna Reid, Miss Upstate 2012 came to crown her successor, and Caitlin Nolan, Miss Finger Lakes 2012, was of course there to crown her successor.

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There was originally 20 girls registered to compete, from as far as Buffalo and Albany. However, this number dropped to 17, as Katelynn Smith won Miss Fulton County and Carrie Sunde won Miss Cambridge, a Miss Massachusetts preliminary. And also one of the girls did not show up. I had competed with many of the girls before, but it was also nice to meet new faces.

I wanted my friend Zeenat to come support me, and she wanted to being her cousin Majida. So I drove to Syracuse Friday night, car packed and ready for the big night. We left bright and early for the road trip down to Corning. It took longer than we wanted it to, but it was gorgeous. The finger lakes are such a pretty area.

When we got there it was discovered that there was no electrical outlets! In the past, someone used a giant extension cord and power strips to give us power. But this year, they forgot! So Allie’s dad went to the hardware store and bought some long cords and power strips for us to use. We were ll incredibly thankful.

I have been practicing and preparing for interview since before Miss Thousand Islands. I repurposed a composition notebook from my first year of college, and began collecting current events, local and regional events, and common interview questions. Last year many of the interview questions were “fluff” and caught me off guard. I refused to let that happen this year. Additionally, I sought the help of my Effective Speech teacher for some mock interview questions. Not only did this help me answer these questions on my feet, but she provided feedback and suggestions regarding my vocabulary and reasoning. I have always been fairly confident in my interview and onstage question categories, so it was nice to know I was able to improve even more.

The questions were amazing. I was very confident with every answer I gave. the judges did not ask a single “fluff” question, like all of them last year. They were very articulate, and asked follow up questions as well.

One judge asked me what I was wearing. I stepped aside from the podium and explained everything I was wearing, and why I chose it. One judge told me she loved my shoes.

There was a tough spot, where a judge asked me if I could choose a second platform, which one I would choose. I said I would promote the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. Then a judge asked if that was for personal reasons; essentially asking me if I was a lesbian. I think I did a good job of answering, saying that the point of my platform would be to make a personals sexual preference or gender identity not matter, and therefor it shouldn’t matter if I was or wasn’t.

Another question was if I could choose another contestant to win, who would I choose. In my mocks, I had of course prepared to answer for my sister. But when I was asked I said Chelsea. I think I answered very well, giving very good reasons and even going in to explain Chelsea’s platform, even if I meant to say Lauren.

Opening Number
I don’t fully understand why, perhaps the 10 hours of rehearsal were not utilized efficiently but the opening number was performed as a group for the first time after the show started. We practiced split in 2 small groups, while the other was getting ready for interview, or while they were in interview.

I realised very quickly after we received the video on Wednesday that I could not do the dance properly or at that speed, so I found littler alterations. Even though I was doing things “wrong”, they were intentional, so I was confident, and I don’t think people could tell they were wrong. I acted like I knew what I was doing, so I looked like I knew what I was doing.

Lauren and me, opening number
Lauren and me, opening number

Lifestyle & Fitness

Somehow, 10 seconds before we are meant to go out for swimwear, I am elected to butt glue everyone’s suit. Being me, of course I don’t think twice. When Chelsea comes over, I notice she has her belly ring in and say, “Oh, I’ve gotta take mine out still too.” I glue her butt, glue like 5 other girls, then we all go out. No one even glued my butt!

I made a conscious effort when I walked in front of the judges table to do a spin to try to distract them from my tattoo. I have a really good coverup now by Kat Von D, however it doesn’t hide it when I am 6 inches in front of the person. I couldn’t help but notice one judge staring at my stomach, and giving me a very dirty look. I assume she noticed my tattoo, but I ignore her, smile, and strut backstage.

There, I see Chelsea, with her belly ring still in. I look down, my belly ring is still in. Even though we had mentioned it literally seconds before we walked out, we didn’t take them out!

Regardless, quite a few of the girls told me I had a very nice body, which was extra flattering because I haven’t gone to the gym in a week because of back pain. Although I did get a little confused when people told me I looked better than “last time”. I don’t think I looked bad in the past?


Right before the pageant I began having doubts about my talent dress. Its no secret that I believe a fast song gets more points (hang tight for a post on this in the future), and I am constantly reconsidering my song choice. And although I love my talent gown, I have consistently felt that my talent calls for a long sleeved or 3-4 sleeved dress, to beig emphasis to my hands. Although I spent the past week looking for a new dress, it was too short notice. I decided to go back to a talent dress I wore last season. It is a bit more serious, which my song calls for.

My goal for talent this season is to develop a story through my hands. I want to provide the same entertainment qualities to the deaf community as singing provides to the hearing community. I had been working with a local dance teacher to help not only bring a higher entertainment quality to my talent, but also bring higher emotion and storytelling qualities. I actually explained this in my closing statement in interview.

Unfortunately, when I put on my old dress it was like 10 sizes too big! I should have known after all the compliments during swimwear. So 5 minutes before I was about to go on, I had to change back to my second talent dress. Luckily my hair mostly covered my back tattoo, so I didn’t have to keep touching it up!

During rehearsal I did my talent and it was perfect. I was so impressed with myself, as I had been working so hard. But i’m not sure if it was nerves (I didn’t feel nervous) or if I was just so physically tired, but it was not as good as it should have been. My legs were shaking and I kept stumbling over my feet. It was a very strong talent, but far from what I know I am capable of.

Evening Wear


Many moons ago, Zeenat showed me a dress and said that I could borrow it for my pageant. At first try-on, I loved it. But as time went on I began to doubt it. A good pageant friend told me, ” A good evening gown is liked by the judges on their first glance. If they have to think about whether or not they like it, it’s the wrong dress.” Zee’s dress is exotic and unique. It is beautiful, no doubt, but busy and potentially “too much”.

My mother, a few months back, ordered a few gowns online, which were on clearance. One of them, a white jersey gown, was totally gorgeous and completely pageant worthy. Plus, it looks great on me. But the problem is, the gown is white. It was the only color the site had. I am very afraid of white dresses, for many reasons. First of all, there is the old saying “A white gown wins.” This in mind, white is a very popular color. At Fulton County, 8 of the 10 girls wore dresses in the white family. White looks good on so many people, it could be considered a “safe” option. I really like royal blue and deep red. If this gown was red, blue, or even purple, it would by far be the best gown ever. Also, another reason I’m afraid of white, at Empire I was tan and the dress contrasted so much, my tan looked over the top, even though it was a mild tan.

This being said, I brought both dresses so I could decide once I got there.

Except then I realized that I did not bring both dresses. We had forgotten Zee’s dress. So I had to wear the white dress. It is gorgeous, and thankfully only 2 other girls wore white, however it was too big as well! It was mostly fitted in the body, but because of my body shape it was twisted. I let it just stay twisted and pretended it was supposed to be that way. I also had to safety pin one of the straps an inches or two. Random issue we never anticipated was the ribbons that are used to hang the rest. They kept peeking out!

I also could not walk up the stairs. I had not brought shoes, so I wore my swimsuit shoes, and stepped on my dress on the way up. I walked down the stairs just fine!

The Marines, who were supposed to be escorts, did not show up. So some of the Dads escorted us. Allie’s dad walked me to the stairs, and as he did he was whispering tips and little cute pageant words of wisdom. (He’s been a pageant dad for many years). It was very adorable.

Lauren, Adrienne and me
Lauren, Adrienne and me

Onstage Questions

The questions given at Miss Fulton county were very difficult. We assumed it was because they are so very selective with their titleholders. But the questions at Miss Finger Lakes were incredibly difficult as well! Chelsea got, “Do you think Michelle Obama is doing a good job as the First Lady?” Lauren’s or Jennifer’s were probably the easiest: “If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go” and “What do you hope to gain by competing in pageants?” Adrienne’s was controversial, like Jessica’s at Fulton County. She was asked, “Miss USA allowed a transgender contestant to compete. Do you think Miss America should do the same?” She had a very good answer, but I feel like she gave the “wrong” answer. I think that this question was not looking for honesty, but rather there was a set answer already in mind.

My question wasn’t the hardest. I was incredibly lucky because I have an opinion already on the topic. I was asked, “There has been speculation that Hilary Clinton will be in the next presidential election. do you think she should run for president?” Personally, Hilary Clinton hasn’t impressed me as a senator. I actually mentioned in my interview that I am a big supporter of Kristen Gillibrand. So instead I said that I think if Hilary believes she will make a good president, that she should run for president and let the voters decide. But that I think a lot of people are hoping that if she wins that Bill Clinton will be president again vicariously through her, and that although he was a great president and fixed our economy, if she runs it has to be because she has her own solutions. After I mentioned the part about Bill everyone laughed, so I think that was a good sign. Also when I walked off stage a lady in the audience told me it was the best answer.


Caitlin & Rayna, 2012 Titleholders
Caitlin & Rayna, 2012 Titleholders

We all came out for our last look, and tried to squeeze on the stage all at once. It was very tight.

First they announced the preliminary winners. Alexandra Curtis won the People’s Choice award, and Mary O’Connell won Miss Congeniality. I voted for her.

4th runner up went to Chelsea Brumagen. I was incredibly shocked when she ranked so low. Honestly, I don’t think she “got worse”, I really think everyone else is just stepping up.

3rd runner up went to Anneliese Trust.

2nd runner up went to Mary O’Connell.

1st runner up went to Desiree Wiley.

Miss Upstate New York 2013… Alexandra Curtis! She was in total shock and just stood there for a moment. Lauren had to nudge her and tell her to step forward. It was adorable how cute she was, and how much shock was blatantly visible on her face.

Miss Upstate New York 2013
Miss Upstate New York 2013

Miss Finger Lakes 2013… Kristina Camille Sims! She was Georgia’s Outstanding Teen and in Top 5 at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, so it would be so great if she won Miss New York and went on to compete at Miss America!

Miss Finger Lakes 2013, Camille Sims
Miss Finger Lakes 2013, Camille Sims

It was such a great pageant.

So many visiting queens came to visit. Lonna, Miss Thousand Islands and Joelle, Miss TI Outstanding Teen. Katelynn, Miss Fulton County and Danielle, Miss Empire Star were both there as well. Kelsey, Miss Finger Lakes Outstanding Teen (who goes to my high school) made the trip out, and Neetu was crowned Miss Upstate NY Outstanding Teen. Plus there were tons of Littles and Princesses.

The girls were all very motivated. Not to say that the winners didn’t deserve to win, but I think that the top 10 girls were all very very close in scores. Everyone gave 110%, and the winners only won by very little. It is going to a very intense Miss Empire Rose and Miss Empire Star this year, as many of the same girls will now compete for these crowns, as well as Caitlin, who wants to go back to Miss New York!



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