Pageant hopefuls gather at Fester's House
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The contestants for the Rabbit Fest pageant had the chance to find their marks on Sunday afternoon, as pageant director Wendy Sledd, her co-director Azeita Taylor, along with current members of the Rabbit Fest royalty held a rehearsal at Fester's House in City Park.
Sledd said that one of the suggestions from last year's pageant evaluation form was to have a rehearsal this year, and Sunday's get-together was a result of that suggestion. She asked that contestants and their parents fill out the evaluation form after the pageant, because the pageant committee does listen.
While everyone watched, Sledd walked through the paces contestants will follow the day of the pageant, when hundreds of festival goers watch. Starting at Fester's House, she demonstrated how to enter the stage, then find the first mark, and how to place her feet in a model's T.
“We will stay here with you as long as you want, until you are comfortable,” Sledd told them. At the rehearsal, contestants were able to pick up their numbers which they will pin to their pageant wear on the big day.
Melinda Kellar, mother of three, came with her seven-month-old daughter, Veronica. This is Veronica's first pageant, and Kellar said she entered her daughter in the pageant for fun.
During rehearsal, Sledd demonstrated to parents like Kellar, who will carry their little ones on stage, the best way to hold their children so the judges can see their faces as well as their outfits.
Older contestants are asked to have a platform in mind should they win, and another first-time pageant competitor, Melissa Bryan, already knows what her platform will be, should she be crowned Ms. Rabbit Fest.
“I am going to have the platform of early detection of scoliosis. I want to encourage parents that it is so important to follow up on the screenings in school, if something is found,” Bryan said. The subject is close to home for her, with her daughter having been diagnosed with scoliosis when she was younger, and had a rod placed in her back to correct the curvature. She said without the early detection during a school screening and following up on that, the doctor told Bryan her daughter, now 15 and in high school, wouldn't be able to do what she can today.
Jesenika Perry, the mother of the reigning Wee Little Miss Rabbit Fest, Hadlie Perry, will also be competing in the Ms. Rabbit Fest category. Her nine year old daughter, Hannah, is competing in the Pre-Teen category, and asked Jesenika to compete also.
“This is something we're doing as a family,” she said. Her platform, should she win, will be compiling resources and assistance for victims of domestic violence. “Killeen has something like that, but we don't.”
Another reason for participating is being impressed by the impact of the volunteer service hours the Rabbit Fest royalty have put in during the last year.
“Wendy has a good thing going here,” Perry added.
Approximately 90 contestants total have registered in 12 categories for boys and girls eight and under, and six categories for girls and women ages nine and up. However, during her remarks to the contestants and their parents, Sledd said the only category with zero contestants is the Senior Miss Rabbit Fest, ages 50 and up. She asked those present to encourage women who fit that category to consider registering for the pageant, and the deadline for that category only has been extended to Friday, May 8.
All pageant judges are current titleholders in the Miss America or Miss USA Pageant systems
and reside a minimum of 90 minutes to two hours from Copperas Cove. Auditors are also
experienced with pageant scoring systems and reside a minimum of 90 minutes to two hours
from Copperas Cove.