Judging NAM Miss New York

Community Pageantry

The judges arrived on Friday in the early afternoon for orientation, where we met Gerry- the judges coordinator. She filled us in with the scoring procedures, as well as some demonstrations and scoring examples to ensure we all understood which scores were appropriate for which stage presence. Gerry has been involved with pageantry since 1992 when her daughter first competed. She has judges pageants of various systems across many states, but mentioned Miss USA locals are her favorite. We would receive reimbursement for travel, and

Throughout the rest of the weekend Gerry humored us with her classic wit, and pushed the candy bowl at us each time we went into the judges’ chambers.

But first, the youth division on-stage categories. Girls between the age of 5-12 had their moments to shine in evening gown, escorted by a family member or friend. Then, they returned to the stage for the onstage-introduction. Instead of simply stating their name, age, and hometown, contestants found creative ways to squeeze in interesting facts, community service, and career aspirations into 30 seconds. Wow.

On Saturday morning, the Princess, Junior Pre-Teen, and Pre-Teen contestants had their private interviews. Unlike the Miss America panel style interviews I am used to, NAM contestants follow a round-robin interview style. Each girl has only one minute with each judge. Each judge prepared the same 2-3 questions for every girl in the category, so each girl gets the same experience. Each contestant would also give the judge their resume, which could be used for another question if time allotted. Using my background, I pressed the girls to look past their rehearsed answers, and let me really get to know them.  Some of these girls were so well spoken, it was difficult to remember that they were so young! Many spoke better than some adults.

Although meals were included with our judges package, J and I took a nice walk up both directions of Main Street looking for a local food place to enjoy. There wasn’t much in the business district, so we ended up getting lunch at the Legacy of Radisson Hotel.

After lunch was the finale! The judges received the list of the Top 10 and Top 5 girls from preliminaries, to watch specifically during finals. Gerry taught us a neat chart to track the Top 5 girls, as every contestant modeled her evening gown once again. We took notes on the Top 5, to help us with our ranking. That final walk really makes an impact, girls, so always have your game face on from the moment you first step on stage to the moment the winner’s name is called. It could be you!

Crowning Finale:

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NY’s NAM Princess Olivia Sczerbaniewicz

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NY’s NAM Junior Pre-Teen: Annaliese Arena

NY's NAM Pre-Teen is Liza Cotter

NY’s NAM Pre-Teen is Liza Cotter



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We had the morning off, so after sleeping in and catching a late breakfast we poked around the hotel like tourists.

Then in the evening we started the whole cycle over with Junior Teen and Teen. There are literally five competitions rolled into two completely separate pageants. The older girls modeled their evening gown, and gave their onstage introductions.


The morning was reserved for interviews. Some of the girls will transition so well as they move up in categories and into older systems. I asked some difficult questions, and was very impressed with the answers. I was shocked as how many discussed self harm and eating disorders. We need to listen to our youth, clearly they are ready to reach out and help the community and their peers with these difficult life concerns.

Crowning Finale:

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NY’s NAM Teen Diana Marie Russo

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NY’s NAM Junior Teen: Lauryn Whitfield











Two more beautiful young ladies joined the ranks as New York’s Teen and Junior Teen!

Visiting NAM queens throughout the weekend included South Texas Princess and New Jersey Preteen. Miss NY’s Outstanding Teen, Cady Ruth, even showed up! She was 1st runner up last year, and competed with many of these girls.

All in all, it was a wonderful experience. I hope to be invited back next year to judge an Optional event!


The Esteemed Overall Judges

Miss Forest Queen

Community Pageantry

The Hulbert House is a historic, haunted, bed and breakfast located in Boonville, NY. Owned and operated by the Daskiewich Family for 50 years, the Hulbert House is a proud venue sponsor for the Forest Queen pageant, which kicks off their Boonville Woodsmen Days. Miss Forest Queen, Teen Forest Queen, and their court of wood nymphs will be seen in the community throughout the weekend, as well as the rest of the year.

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Special Performances by Lauren, Miss Mohawk Valley, Olivia, Miss Mohawk Valley’s Outstanding Teen, and Laurie Jean Britton, the Miss Mohawk Valley’s executive director.

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Judges included Sue Pilon, co-executive director of Miss Thousand Islands, Shelley Carlos, mother of Miss Forest Queen 2011, and Candy McIntyre, former executive director of the Miss Forest Queen pageant. Allison Carlos, Miss Thousand Islands 2015 and former Miss Forest Queen, made a special visit down to cheer on this year’s girls.

Miss Saratoga Fair Pageant 2014

Community Pageantry



Time to Judge!

This past weekend I was invited to the annual Miss Saratoga County Fair Pageant to judge girls in 8 age divisions as young as 12 months old, and as old as 21 years.   I was very excited when I was contacted; I have never even been to the Saratoga County Fair before. I grew up a hop skip and a jump away, and would attend the Fonda Fair. (I hope to attend the 2014 pageant).

As a Judge, I gained free entrance to the Fair! I even got a stylish tote bag for attending on opening day. While there, I caught up with some visiting queens: Amanda Daley, Miss NY American Nation; Abbey Naumowics, Miss Altamont Fair; and Danielle Trumbull, Miss NY International.

Titleholders from each division received a cash prize of $100, as well as a gorgeous sash and crown. The high title, Miss Saratoga Fair Queen, went home with $200, the opportunity to represent their region at the Fair and throughout the community during their year, and their photo added to the prestigious Fair Pageant Photo Board.

The 2013 titleholders were there to host, and help the young girls if they got frightened on stage. I was pleasantly surprised to see Madison Manuel, Miss Upstate NY, as she gave up her Queen title. She credits her experience as Miss Saratoga Fair Queen as the reason she was able to win Miss Upstate NY.


Each girl walked across the stage and modeled her dress. The young girls were asked about their favorite part of the Saratoga Fair. The older girls provided three topics in their application, and a topic was chosen at random. Some of the girls really stood out with their public speaking– they speak better in front of a crowd than I do!

Some of the highlights from the pageant:




Miss Fonda Fair- Stepping Stone to MNY?

Community Pageantry

truckIn 1985, Barbara Gray had a dream. She wanted to start a pageant to coincide with the annual Fonda Fair, as a way to give “girls the opportunity to work at a goal, the goal of learning to be your best…” For nearly a decade she lived out that dream as the director of the Miss Fonda Fair pageant. Helen Buanno took over in 1995 and continued that dream for another 10 years. In 2006, the pageant switched hands and was taken over by Gretchen Salvion, but in 2009 she gave it back to Helen Buano. Finally, in 2011, Jessica (a current Miss America Local Contestant) and her mother Jackie agreed to take responsibility of the pageant. Hopefully the legacy of the Miss Fonda Fair continues as it approaches the 30th anniversay.

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2013 Titleholders

This pageant, although not a Miss America Preliminary, has sent representatives to compete in the past, both at the Miss and the Outstanding Teen levels. The contestants are still required to have a personal interview, model an evening gown, and answer an on-stage question. However, they are also required to give a short speech about why they are the best candidate. Additionally, contestants are invited to write an essay for the Mom of the Year award.

Titleholders are required to attend each day at the Fonda Fair during the year they win, but also gain Lifetime Membership to the Fair. They are encouraged to make additional appearances and participate in community service events throughout the year. They also win a rhinestone crown, sash, rhinestone crown pin, trophy, cash award, bouquet of flowers, monogrammed sweatshirt & t- shirt and gifts donated by area businesses. All contestants get a free pass to the pageant, certificate of participation and a ribbon. Runners ups also receive cash prizes.

Many Miss America local titleholders have used the Miss Fonda Fair pageant as a stepping stone into official preliminaries. Nearly a dozen, so far have, have either taken the Miss Fonda Fair title, at large, or gone on to win titles and gone on to compete at Miss New York or Miss New York’s Outstanding Teen.

Miss Fonda Fair Royalty on the Miss New York Stage

  • 2012:    Miss Fonda Fair Cory Lais competed as Miss Fonda Fair’s Outstanding Teen.
  • 2011:    Miss Fonda Fair Misty-Lynn Hilts competed as Miss Fonda Fair, at large.
    Junior Miss Fonda Fair Kelsey Gray won Miss Finger Lake’s Outstanding Teen (however stepped down because MNYOT interfered with a national wrestling championship).
    2010:    Junior Miss Fonda Fair Ashley McDuffee won Miss Mohawk Valley’s Outstanding Teen, 1st Runner Up at MNYOT
  • 2009:    Miss Fonda Fair Lauren Crandall- Miss Mohawk Valley 2014
  • 2008:    Miss Fonda Fair Courtney Sheridan has won multiple titles, including Miss Mohawk Valley’s Outstanding Teen, Miss Fulton County, Miss Empire Rose, Miss Mohawk Valley, and Miss Central New York
    Miss Fonda Fair Princess: Kimberly Sargalis has won Miss Mohawk Valley’s OT, Miss Upstate NY’s OT
  • 2005:    Miss Fonda Fair Kieren Sheridan: Miss Mohawk Valley, Miss Fulton County
  • 2002:    Miss Fonda Fair Keelie Sheridan competed as Miss Fonda Fair, at large, as well as many other titles including Miss Brooklyn, where she came in Top 5.
  • 2000:   Junior Miss Fonda Fair Theresa Tokarowski has won many pageants including Miss Mohawk Valley, Miss Empire Rose, and Miss Jubilee
  • 1998:    Princess Miss Fonda Fair Courtney Egelston won Miss Fulton County

2012 Titleholders

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Are you interested in competing for Miss Fonda Fair?
This could be the first step in your journey to winning a Miss New York local, and going on to win Miss New York and Miss America!
Date: August 26, 2014
Deadline: August 13, 20214
Ages: 5-24
Eligibility: Fulton or Montgomery Counties
Fee: $20.00 (Make checks payable to “Miss Fonda Fair Pageant”. No refunds will be granted.)
ENTER EARLY to Win the Award for First Application Received!

6th Annual Miss Central New York

Community Pageantry

As summer approaches, high school seniors are finally breaking free from grade school and preparing to spend their last summer home before their new life as an undergraduate college student. Many students, or at least their parents, find this to be a stressful time on the financial front. Mia Adams McSherry, Syracuse resident, knew how expensive college is, and wanted to provide a unique opportunity for seniors in the greater Syracuse region. What resulted was the Miss Central New York Scholarship Pageant. Although not an official preliminary to Miss New York, this pageant follows many of the same standards and morals, while providing scholarships for the young ladies who compete.

The 6th annual Miss Central New York Scholarship Pageant invited senior girls from a handful of high schools from across the central New York region to participate in a month long process with contestant orientation and workshops, dress rehearsals, and the pageant, including three phases of competition. The pageant was held in the historic Palace Theater in Eastwood, and was filled to the brim with the proud families of the girls. The stage, laden with flowers, boasted a balloon backdrop shaped like a crown.