This weekend is the 18th annual Miss Empire Rose pageant, and 11 beautiful ladies will be competing for two crown. Both of the winners and the three teens will continue on and compete at the 2015 Miss New York and Miss New York’s Outstanding Teen competitions.
The Miss Empire Rose Pageant is one of the longer running pageants in the state, with an extensive legacy, a former Miss New York winner, and a handful of Top 5 and Top 10 placements. The Miss Empire Rose title started as a limited title for the Capital Region, but later the Empire Star title was added, which is statewide open. The pageant was started by director Janet Murphy to honor her mother, and is always a special weekend for her and she goes out of her way to make sure every contestant feels loved.
Empire Rose has always been a hidden gem in the New York local circuit. The venue is small and tucked away with conservative equipment. The scholarships aren’t much, and the prize package is is modest as well. But Empire Rose is special because of the director, who runs the pageant with the largest heart imaginable.
Graphic made by Lauren, Miss Mohawk Valley ’14
This year the pageant was expanded to three titles, with three different eligibility. In truth, it was as though there were three separate pageants being held in the same venue. I admit, I was overwhelmed at first by the 24 contestants. But after I wrote out a list of all of the girls, and which of the three titles they were eligible for, my mind was suddenly at ease. Eleven of the Twenty-Four girls were only eligible for Empire Star. That means that about 45% of the girls were going cutthroat for one title, and the 13 of us who were left were divided between the other two titles. In fact, only 7 girls were eligible for Empire Capital Region. Five of the girls were eligible for both Empire Rose and Empire Star, but not eligible for Capital Region. If I shut out the other two titles in my mind, I could convince myself that I was only competing against 6 girls for the Capital Region title. Suddenly it wasn’t that overwhelming.
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!