Miss Empire Rose/Empire Star 2013

Empire Rose has always been a small, cute pageant, that is secretly a dance recital for an elderly dance troupe. This year the state asked for the eligibility to be opened to all upstate girls. At first I was very upset, because I like the limited competition. But then I realized how much it must suck to not be eligible for any at all.

It was nice to see so many of the girls again! Especially the few I met at Finger Lakes and I hadn’t gotten to know very well yet.

There were actually TWO Miss New York preliminaries on Saturday. Both were double crowns, so FOUR girls joined the Miss New York Class of 2013. In addition to Miss Empire Rose and Miss Fulton County, Clarkson University, way up north, decided to host a new preliminary today as well. The Miss Clarkson (which actually switched its name to Miss Adirondacks) is eligible if she attended Clarkson, and a second title, Miss North Country, is anyone in St. Lawrence Country. Miss North Country is Hallie Hugues and Miss Adirondacks is Victoria Ballestero. I hope they go to Miss New York!

I was super excited to see the Adirondacks getting a local. I hope this sparks their interest so they are ready when I direct one for the area… I was hoping to have a Miss Adirondacks and Miss North Country, so I’m hoping they don’t keep both titles.  But I have plenty of backups: Miss High Peaks, Miss Blue Line, Miss Foothills, Miss 46ers. Thankfully there are plenty of nicknames for the region that I could turn into a working title. I plan to get more into it this summer, pre-planning what is involved and what has to go into it before I make my hope real.

Emily and I got a hotel room to save time in the morning since we had to be there 9am. We went to the Best Western, 15 minutes away. The room wasn’t bad. It was a nice size and clean. But I had to call the front desk because the bathroom had a red heat lamp and we didn’t know how to turn on the regular light. They have to get that call all the time.

The interview was at the Shen Adult Center like last year. I was number 13, so although I curled by hair at the hotel, I waited so long I ended up curling my hair again. I ended up curling Adrienne’s hair too, with some really nice curlers that I may have to invest in.


I had a pretty confident interview. There were 3 questions I think I didn’t do well on.

The first one was what to tell a person who is donating blood, but their blood has stopped flowing, and they are being discouraged because the attendants keep coming over and bothering them. I said that talking to the donor wouldn’t affect the speed of their blood flowing, but instead they had better offer the donor water, and keep them flowing and squeezing the ball. The judge was not impressed. I think she had a preconceived answer.

Then I was asked what I like to do in my free time. I said I like to work out. Then, instead of saying “As Miss America we have to be rolemodels for women of real shapes, and show that muscles are healthy,” I began explaining the benefits of weight lifting instead of cardio. Then I started talking too fast, because I knew I had messed up.

Then, the only male judge, asked me what I’d like to tell young men. Instead of saying that they should treat every woman like his mother, and not look up to the celebrities involve with domestic violence and follow in their footsteps. Instead, I said that women should elevate themselves and men should work hard to go to their levels, instead of looking up to Chris Brown who beat Rhianna, and expecting their girlfriends to do the same. I was definitely too informal and offensive.

Add a red blazer and red and pink leopard print heels.
Add a red blazer and red & pink leopard print heels.

I think I had a pretty strong closing statement too. I tried to peak their interest for the evening, and said that I was already a role model by my ability to over come obstacles as a living example that the Miss America Organization changes lives. It wasn’t fully polished, but I think it did the job, as they were all very intrigued.

Opening Number
Thankfully, opening number at this pageant is always the same. We all walk out together in a circle, then walk back into the fitting room. Then we walk out one at a time, form a semi-circle, and do introductions. No dancing required. With 19 competitors  I made things a little special by introducing my contestant number as “lucky 13”. Janet, the director, told me that she auditioned to be a Rockette on Friday the 13th, and that her first show was on a 13th. So I thought it would me a good sign.

9th grade homecoming dress = favorite cocktail dress
9th grade homecoming dress = favorite cocktail dress

I am getting better at putting my hands on my hips (while actually putting it on my waist), but I still look like a hunch or a claw. I tend to just keep my hands at my side, with shoulders back. I’m also doing better with my chin. I need to lower it just a bit more.

Lifestyle & Fitness

After learning from Finger Lakes, I did not butt glue anyone this pageant. This gave me time to obsess over my own butt. I wore a differently shaped bottom when I was spray tanned, so struggled between covering the pale lines with bronzer, and balancing  not having “poopy butt” with not having “camel toe”. Although I did remember to take out my belly ring, my spray tan was lighter than my cover-up, so it didn’t cover as well.

Unintentional butt shot in the mirror.


While waiting in line, I was next to go on, I spoke with Laurie Jean who was volunteering backstage. I confessed that my biggest worry was that they were going to judge me as a dancer. I had mentioned my talent’s purpose as my closing statement at Finger Lakes, but my talent had not come up at this interview. The judges knew nothing about it.

They had introduced the judges, and two of them were dancers. For this reason, I was extra upset when they announced that I would be “signing and dancing”. I have no idea where the emcee came up with this description, as my fact sheet clearly does not mention dancing.

When they started my music, it started late. Even though the words don’t begin for 8 seconds, I have to start the “story”. I looked at the music panel to start over, and she said she started it from the beginning. Rather than make light of the situation and telling a joke, I was rude and said “It missed 10 seconds”, and made her start over. I’m sure I lost many points for that. I was so discouraged that I could not give it my all. I tried to smile, but I couldn’t. My body was shaking because I was so upset. It was a terrible feedback loop. I was so discouraged. I still got some compliments afterwards for having a “great talent”, but I don’t like how I can’t maintain my game face under pressure.

Evening Wear

After Finger Lakes I had gotten a ton of compliments on my dress, so we decided to get it altered. We found a guy who did a very good job, quickly, and for cheap. I think I did a very good job in evening, despite having been crying backstage during intermission. I kept my shoulders back, my head was high, and I had a smile the whole time. I walked slowly, took my time on the spots. I was very proud.

Onstage Question

We then went back onstage for the questions. I was asked, “What is one characteristic that gives women an advantage over men?” I knew what I wanted to say. I know what I should have said. But instead, I said that women have a sharp tongue.  Although men can get the job done, women can go above and beyond what they thought they wanted. I got a lot of laughs. People once again told me I had the best answer. But I was very unsatisfied with my answer.


19 Beautiful Ladies

And then, before we knew it, it was time for crowning.
The 2012 Empire Rose & Empire Star court is… Courtney Sheridan, Danielle Trumbull, Anneliese Trust and…

Miss Empire Rose 2013 is Desiree Wiley

Miss Empire Star 2013 is Mary O’Connell

What great ladies! Even though Desiree changed her platform for this pageant (she says it is part of her master plan), she is a blood, organ, and tissue donation advocate. I  definitely support her efforts to save lives. Mary is a member of the “women’s fraternity” Kappa Kappa Gamma with Miss Upstate New York, Alexandra Curtis.  Both Desiree and Mary have phenomenal talents. I truly believe upstate New York will give the City girls some competition this year at Miss New York.

There were also some more awards!

Non-Finalist Talent winner: Adrienne Wilson.
Non-Finalist Interview winner: Chelsea Brumagen.

Recent “former” pageant girl, one of my biggest fans, and the gal responsible for many of the fabulous spray tans for Fulton County, Finger Lakes/Upstate and Empire Rose/Star, Lynn Tryon came out to support us as well.


Miss Mohawk Valley is in two weeks! It’s time to get back to pageant boot camp! This is my favorite pageant of the year, and the crown is calling my name.


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