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What are the criteria for being in the Azalea Festival Pageant?

Amanda Lisk
StarNews

Paxton Webster was crowned the 2013 North Carolina Azalea Festival Scholarship Pageant princess on March 9.

Q. What is the criteria for being in the Azalea Festival Pageant? Who selects the contestants and what, if any, stage performance must they do during the competition?

A. The criteria is simple. All applicants for the N.C. Azalea Festival Pageant must be an 11th grade girl attending any of the area high schools — at least that’s the age requirement starting in 2014. Up until this year, the pageant was reserved for only high school seniors. It opened up to 11th and 12th grade girls for just 2013 to adjust to the new rule beginning 2014 which is that only 11th grade girls, or juniors in any of the area high schools, can apply to the pageant.

No letters of recommendation or formal resumes are required, said Amy Queen, who has been co-directing the Azalea Festival Pageant with Cande Collins for 11 years. Girls simply sign up at their school, she said, usually in November or early December.

The first contestant meeting is always the first Sunday in January and the pageant is typically held the first or second weekend in March or whenever Kenan Auditorium is available. This year it was Saturday, March 9.

There is a three-step process to determine who the N.C. Azalea Festival Princess will be. First, a five minute interview is conducted of each contestant during the day of the pageant. Interviews are based on a one-page bio sheet each contestant is asked to fill out for the judges. Next, that night, all contestants go through an evening gown competition.

“There’s no swimsuit. It’s a scholarship pageant. Fifty percent of the decision is based on that five minute interview,” said Queen.

Last, the top 15 semi finalists are called back to the stage and each is asked to answer an impromptu on-stage question.

“My on-stage question was, ‘If you could choose between wealth, knowledge and beauty, what would you choose and why?’ I chose knowledge,” said Topsail High School senior, Paxton Webster.

Webster said she and the other top 15 waited together for the results. Judges first announce the Festival court by calling the girls’ pageant number and then they call the contestant number for the girl they have selected as princess. Much to Webster’s surprise, it was her.

“All I heard was number 24. I was literally in shock. I remember my hands covering my face and tears falling down. I felt really accomplished after that,” said Webster.

All N.C. Azalea Festival princess winners receive the Beverly Anne Jurgensen Scholarship Award of $6,250 for 2013. Jurgensen, who was director of human resources for the StarNews, was the very first female Azalea Festival president in 1992. When she passed away in 2004, a fund was set up in her name.

The Azalea Festival princess also receives a $500 clothing allowance for Azalea Festival events. Princesses are required to attend all events during the festival and any invitations that may come up during the year at other festivals throughout the state.

For more information, call the NC Azalea Festival Office at 794-4650 or visit www.ncazaleafestival.org/events/scholarship-pageant-2013.

RELATED LINKS:

The Azalea Festival Parade was great but wondering why were several of the big floats empty?

Why was there no live coverage of the Azalea Festival Parade on either WECT or WWAY?

 

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