Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Miss Kansas competitors take the stage

December 17, 2006


Miss Douglas County Trisha Tyree, Eudora, and Miss Tonganoxie Amber DeGraeve took turns walking in circles and practicing posing backstage at the Lied Center.

They were making final preparations less than half an hour before the opening number of the Miss Kansas USA and Miss Kansas Teen USA pageants Saturday.

"These girls already know how to walk. They know how to smile. This is just working off the nervous energy of going out there and doing it," said Scott Voorhees, spokesman for pageant producer Vanbros and Associates Inc.

Backstage is home to a flurry of activity before and during each night of the pageant.

As the 74 contestants race back and forth changing outfits and applying makeup, it's also necessary to balance the hurry with having poise to appear lively and not flustered on stage.

During Saturday's presentation show of preliminary swimsuit and evening gown competitions, about 400 people in the audience saw only the calm contestants.

They missed the rush behind the curtain.

"It's a lot of seamless transitions in trying to get them into the right place at the right time so they have enough time to get changed from each outfit," Voorhees said.

After rehearsals all day, the contestants changed into their opening outfits and also did their best to organize their other clothes to make things easier when they were forced to change quickly later on.

Saturday night, all 74 contestants walked across the stage, and judges scored them on their swimsuits and evening gowns. One panel of five judges scored the Miss Kansas USA contestants, and a separate panel scored the Miss Kansas Teen USA contestants.

The same judges will conduct private one-on-one interviews with contestants this morning, and two new panels of judges will score the semifinalists during the coronation show, which begins at 7 tonight at the Lied Center.

All 20 judges throughout the weekend are former state pageant winners from the Midwest, as part of the 15th anniversary of Vanbros and Associates Inc. production of pageants.

Voorhees said officials with the Miss Universe Organization - a partnership between NBC and Donald Trump - were attending this weekend's state pageant. Negative national media attention in the last week has focused on current Miss USA Tara Conner, of Kentucky, as she has been accused of inappropriate conduct at New York bars.

The organization has said it is "evaluating her behavioral and personal issues." Trump is expected to make an announcement this week whether she will continue her reign.

Voorhees said Vanbros and Associates has fortunately never been put in a similar position during its 15 years, and the apparent controversy changes nothing about the company's expectations of contestants.

"They got the same pep talk today that they did last year before this controversy erupted," he said.

Overall, the pageants are meant to boost the young women's self confidence, and each category has a purpose, Voorhees said.

The swimsuit competition stresses health, which is important because the No. 1 killer of women older than age 25 is heart disease.

"We want to really stress the importance of being healthy, staying in shape, getting some exercise," Voorhees said.

The evening gown judges poise, and the interviews focus on intellect and public-speaking skills.

"Pageants always challenge you to another level, whether it's increasing your vocabulary, making sure you're current on what's going on in the world and on current events, and staying in top physical form," said Megan Bushell, current Miss Shoker Country USA and and former Miss Kansas 2004, who represented the state in the Miss America pageant.

The categories each require different types of preparation, and sometimes overcoming nerves may be the most important.

"I hope I don't go up there and stutter," said Miss Olathe Teen Jasmine Khatthaname, Olathe, about the interviews.


carolannfugate 11 years, 6 months ago

No I don't it is a very small part of the entire thing. I realize that there are many out there just frothing at the mouth over the swim suit and evening gown compititions. Oh yes we all know about the strain of eating disorders blah blah blah. There is also the oppertunities aforded these young women. Even if they never cut the State level they have met people and learned a great deal already. For the lucky one that does win State they get the chance to travel and see exactly what they can do. Reality; not everyone is born beautiful, but if it can help in some little way to move through life I say use while you can ladies.

squishypoet 11 years, 6 months ago

Does anyone else find the picture of a lot of girls' butts in swimsuits somewhat inappropriate?

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