Miss Independence pageant returns next weekend

Published 8:28 pm Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A mainstay of Belhaven’s annual Fourth of July celebrations, the Miss Independence pageant will return to Belhaven next weekend. On June 29, 25 young ladies from ages four to 18 will take the stage at the Wilkinson Center, all seeking the title of Miss Independence.

Divided into four categories, the girls will each have the chance to give performances and traditional pageant presentations. While the younger two divisions will have their pageants beginning at 10 a.m., the older participants will take the stage at 5 p.m.

“I tell them I have a vision, and it’s their job to help it come to life for the audience,” said pageant Director Kayla Harris. “There are some beautiful pieces this year I can’t wait for the crowd to see, so I hope we have a good turnout with the date change.”

In years past, the pageant has been held on July 3 and July 4, but the change this year presents some new opportunities, according to Harris. The girls will appear in the Independence Day Parade on July 4, as is tradition.

COMPETING FOR THE CROWN: Young Miss Independence contestants, top row, left to right, are Logan Dail, Paige Smith and Mis Paniagua; Miss Independence contestants, middle row, from left to right, are Kaylyn Coltrain, Faith Griffis, Rita Schneider, Mallory Nobles and MacKenzie Rouse. At bottom left is 2018 Miss Independence Amelia Woolard, and at bottom right is 2018 Young Miss Independence Averi Marslender. (Kayla Harris)

There will also be live music on the Wilkinson Center lawn by the 4 of a Kind Band at 8 p.m., following the Miss Independence Pageant.

While the event will have all the hallmarks of a traditional beauty pageant, Harris also hopes to see the participants walk away with some life lessons as well.

“I want them to take away more confidence and kindness,” Harris said. “More kindness than anything — to show each other respect and kindness.”

Harris also said in a pageant, which inherently has an element of competition, it’s also important to learn how to be happy for others and to lose with grace — lessons that are important for living.

In time, Harris hopes to see the pageant built back up into a scholarship pageant, as it has been in years past. For now, she invites the community to come out, support the event and the young ladies participating.