Miss Mohawk Valley 2013

Seventeen ladies competed at the Miss Mohawk Valley last night, and seventeen girls went home winners; with or without the crown.

Rehearsal provided us with a sneak peak of the show. There, the contestants and two past titleholders, filmed a Harlem Shake video to be played at the pageant. I had previously not been interested in anything to do with this trend, as I try to stay away from them. I’ve actually never seen a video, and therefore I still have no idea what it was. I basically sat on the stage floor while a guy with a bunny head danced with Courtney. Hopefully, when I receive my dvd, I will watch the video and maybe things will make more sense. But I doubt it.

Pageant day started early, and went well into the next day.

Lauren stayed the night with me after rehearsal. We woke up nice an early with the sun. She showed while I made coffee and double checked all the bags, then I showered while she, um, well actually I’m not sure what she did during that time. Before the clock stuck 8:00, a girl, Amanda Abdagic, who had gotten lost on the way to rehearsal showed up outside my door. We packed the car, and we headed to the pageant!

Unfortunately, our desire to get there early almost backfired, as none of the doors were open yet! We froze outside for the longest time until Lauren suggested I call the director, who was obviously already inside, and we were finally let inside.

We set up our stuff, claimed our space, and built a cute little Crandall Corner. We waited for the rest of the girls to arrive.

Once everyone arrived we practiced opening number, and the first girls began preparing for interview. As contestant number 16, I had hours to wait. I did so in sweatpants.

At one point, thankfully I had put on jeans at this point, I saw an older lady roaming in the dressing room hallway. I asked her how she was.

“Do you know where the auditions are? ” She asked me.
“What auditions?”
“The auditions for this,” she said.
“For the pageant?”
“Yes,” she said.
“Did you want to see Laurie Jean, the director?” I asked her.
“Lets go look out here. I think she’s upstairs with the judges,” I tell her.
“Oh, I’m one of the judges,” she tells me.

I then brought her thought the back of the stage and gave her to one of the volunteer’s son to bring her up to the judging room.



Everyone came back and said they did wonderful! The judges were so nice and happy, and didn’t give hard questions. I was actually worried going in that I would have a great interview, but it wouldn’t be good enough compared to the other girls’ great interviews.

My first question was about my platform. They basically wanted an overview of why I chose it, and whether or not I have been involved, and if it has a personal connection. I rocked it. I mentioned being a 3rd generation donor, Nanny donating her eyes (which a judge said her relative donated as well. Connection, ding!), I mentioned the two infants I directly saved. The one judge also told me that she is also O+.

I forget the question, but at one point I said that I don’t like the bikini category because I don’t feel comfortable. I wanted to say, that if I won Miss New York I would expand the options of the Lifestyle and Fitness category to include other ways of showing physical fitness, confidence and poise.

The worst question was when a judge said, “I see you live in Whitesboro. I’m sure yo’ure famililar with the (something something) casino. Of the proposals, which do you like the most?” I’m all “uhhhhhh”. I said “Well, I’ve actually just moved to Whitesboro a little less than a year ago, so I’m unfamiliar with that topic.”

In the end, I was right. Compared to my past interviews, it was great. But I don’t think I stood out from the other girls.

Opening Number
As always, the pageant itself was very stressful. I had a problem with my hair, like always. The hostess told us we had 2 minutes and I was still not in my dress, and was wearing the wrong shoes. I managed to get my dress on, and then brought my right shoes out and put them on backstage.

No good deed goes unpunished. Courtney came back stage right before we were set to go on, crying. I turned to ask her what was wrong, and we went out. I was just a split second late, but it looked super dumb. I can’t wait to see it on the DVD The best part is, it looked like I was just not paying attention, when in truth I was just trying to be nice because I don’t like seeing people cry. The routine was very difficult, but nothing like how it was at Finger Lakes. We were given some neat choreographing for the first few clips, but then were told to “vogue” for 2 very large segments. Vogueing is a skill, and with the exception of Courtney who was a natural, we were very horrible at it. I was so uncomfortable flaring my arms and trying not to do an inappropriate position with my legs.

Lifestyle & Fitness


The walking pattern was very simple. We basically alternated sides, and corkscrewed around, stopping at the center than walking off. I decided that I wanted to do a pretty pose and pivot-turn at the center. But unfortunately, I did it during rehearsal. I forget that just because I want to practice doesn’t mean the other girls cannot see it. So during the show, a handful of other girls pivoted and turned as well. I should have added a French Turn at the front of the corkscrew or something. I just wanted to stand out. I ended up being one of a handful.


I had been working incredibly hard to update my choreography and leave the judges excited and thinking about my performance after I leave the stage. During the last few pageants, my mother yelled at me for my shoe choice  So this pageant I wore a new pair of shoes. But unfortunately, they didn’t fit properly. The strap around my ankle was too high, where my ankle was thinner, so it would stay low, resulting in a loose ankle. I practiced a few times to try and prevent myself from falling, but I was still very nervous. Also, the bottom was extra grippy, so it didn’t slide on the ground as well.

As a whole, I think it was a good performance. I was a little reserved, like at Finger Lakes. I do not know how dancers are able to be so active during their performance. They must be so tired, because I know I am, and I am mostly arms with some fancy footwork!

Evening Wear

In the moments just before I went on stage, Lauren came up to me and twirled my dangling sash from my gown. She said, when you do your turn at the center, try to flip it. I told her that I can’t change stuff during the show, I over think it and it will not work out the way it was intended. So she said, “Add another turn before you walk off, so it flows.”

When I walked out I was tall and calm. I walked to the center, paused, walked forward, paused. I did a small circle, walked to the left, and paused. Then, instead of simply walking off the stage to the right, I walked 3/4 of the way and over thought things. Instead of stopping, and looping around, I tried to do my turn but forgot to stop first. What resulted was a very strange, backwards walking spin in an evening gown. I will be very delighted to see how silly this looked.

On-Stage Question 

When I first started competing, I was naturally very nervous about this section of competition. But my confidence rose as received compliments after every pageant for having a very good answer. I began to get over confident, and would refer to this phase as my favorite.

Backstage during Miss Mohawk Valley 2011, Lauren asked me, “Should religious leaders be allowed to run for politics?” This had been her question the year before. I thought about it for a moment, went on stage, and low and behold, that was my question! So this year, we are standing backstage, and I turn to Heather and say, Should religious leaders be allowed to run for politics?” She said , “I don’t know.” i told her, that is one of the questions, they use it every year, and then told her my answer. We turn to the stage, where we hear the emcee say, “Should religious leaders be allowed to run for politics?” This pageant recycles their questions. I knew this, and watched the past DVDs to prepare.

Some of the questions we hear are very hard, and Heather and I decide that we are nervous, however they probably got all the hard ones and we will get an easy one. Wrong.

I go out on stage, and I pick up the only strip I can see. It was fate I be embarrassed.

Do you believe that capital punishment is humane, why or why not?”

Let’s discuss my preparation for this question. While I was a senior in high school, we had to give a 20 minute presentation on a controversial subject, and give the pros, the cons and the solution. My topic was sexual education in public schools. One girl did hers on capital punishment, but I remember her presentation was not very engaging and I was bored. Flash forward to this past fall, while in the meantime there has been no talk of capital punishment in the news or in the media. In my Public Speaking class, we were assigned a persuasive speech. The teacher said we could choose any topic, I chose the promotion of blood donation, except abortion or death penalty as “they’ve been over done.” I have no opinion on this topic. I wouldn’t even call it a current event or controversal topic. I don’t think people even care anymore. Some states allow it, some states don’t.

I freeze. For a split second I want to run off the stage. I take a deep breath and ask myself how I can choose the 3rd option. Instead of saying I think its the best option or I think its inhumane, what else is there. I can only think of one think I’ve heard said in the past, “people ask for it.” At this very moment, when I am typing this, I think about Jodi Arias, and how I could have rocked this question if I had just prepared for 5 minutes before the pageant. But instead, I soon found my foot in my mouth.

I think that there are times when people are asking for the death penalty  when a person goes out and rapes a million people or kills a million people, well hopefully a lot less, they know that they could get the death penalty, and I think that’s what they want. Life in prison would be more of a punishment.”

Or something. Honestly, I was so upset with my answer I don’t even want to remember what I said. I know that I worded that so bad that it makes certain viral videos look less harsh. I’m just waiting for a Youtube playlist of embarrassing on-stage questions, where I’ll find my answer.  I should have mentioned the cost of life in prison being so high for tax payers. I should have mentioned Jodi Arias, so show I am up to date with the news. I should have mentioned how people’s morals should not be the determining factor. But instead, for a split moment, I told myself I was never competing again. Instead, I am just going to keep preparing and never let a potential question be “too outdated”.


After the lot of us, contestants, past titleholders, Little Miss titleholders, Mr. Mohawk Valley and Courtney with the bunny came out on stage wearing sunglasses and dancing to some old school rap song, it was time for crowning.

  • Miss Congeniality: We all voted for the girl with the best personality who was kind and helpful backstage. This award went to my sister, Lauren Crandall.
  • Spirit Award: Similar to the Congeniality Award, this was voted for by the pageant volunteers. This went to Richelle Reynolds.
  • Community Service Award: Although not required, contestants were recommended to submit a community service application, depicting how they gave back to their community. This award went to, me! I was so very shocked, as I have not done anything overly spectacular. I have just been moderately active throughout the past year. I’m very excited, and hope to use this as motivation to give back even more in the next year.

And the winner is…

Emily Stegeland (3RU), Tracee Schiebel (1RU), Amanda Abdagic (MMV’13), Rachel Demeree (2RU), Lauren Crandall (4RU)

There were also two non-finalist awards given out to the two ladies who, apart from the Top Five, scored the highest in the interview and talent portions. These awards went to Carrie Owens (interview) and Lyndsee Pachura (talent). I was super proud of both of these girls. Carrie showed up at rehearsal very awkward and uncertain, but was able to overcome it and give the judges a fantastic interview. Lyndsee broke preconceived notions in regards to talent, as she performed a cheerleading routine.

It is a popular belief that certain talents simply do not win. Monologue win locals, but not state. Hip-Hop/cheer are “not really dancing”. Alexis Wineman broke this when she won Miss Montana with a monologue (she also has autism, which is a big win.).  Amanda Abdagic, Miss Mohawk Valley 2013, broke this as well, by taking the crown with a self-written poetry performance!

Things are changing in Miss America. Next up, let’s change the Lifestyle and Fitness category.


The lovely Conti girls
The lovely Conti girls

I was also very lucky to have friends come to support me! Adrienne and Dan drove all the way out from Troy to watch the pageant. Adrienne even took notes for me, and Dan made mental critiques as well. Now I can improve for next year! Brandon, a close friend from Paul Smith’s College, came down from Syracuse where he was on Spring Break. Lauren, our mom, Brandon and I went to the Turning Stone for a dinner celebration after. Then, Lauren signed up for a player’s card, earning $10 of freeplay which she promptly lost in the penny machine. Brandon bet $10 on the white horse at the Horse Wheel, and won. He bet again, won again. He left having won back his entrance fee to the pageant, and gained $5. I’m going to have him bet on me for my next pageant.


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