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By Mike Scott
The Miss Clark County and Miss Clark County Outstanding Teen Competitions will be held on Sunday, October 17, in the Edna Seyb Gymnasium at the Clark County Middle School. Both are preliminary competitions for the Miss Missouri and Miss American organizations. The competition will start at 6:00pm. Doors may open earlier if there are vendors.
The contest was last held in 2018. In 2019, there wasn’t enough interest, and COVID interrupted 2020 plans to return. Prior to 2018, contest had been inactive for more than a decade.
So far, 10 young women have registered to compete in the competitions. The deadline to enter the competition is Wednesday, October 13, according to Director Jessica Pitford.
The Miss Clark County Outstanding Teen competition is for young women ages 13-17. Three local candidates, Abby Plenge, Kampbel James and Hayden West, will join others in the competition.
The Miss Clark County competition serves ages 18-26. Local candidates include Annalise Smith and Calissa Cormier.
“It is an open competition,” said Pitford. An open competition allows young women from anywhere in Missouri to compete.
“If we get enough entries, we’ll do and open and a closed crown,” she added. In that case, two titles and crowns would be awarded, one to a Clark County resident, and the other to someone from another area. Both would be eligible to advance to the Miss Missouri competition, held at Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, MO, in June of 2022
In addition to the crown and sash, winners will take home a scholarship. The total amounts have yet to be determined.
“The big scholarship that community members have donated to will go to the local girl with the highest score,” Pitford said. “We want to make sure it goes to a local girl, and, it serves and an incentive to for locals to compete.”
Miss Outstanding Teen candidates will be judged on four categories. Their Private Interview will make up 25 percent of their score. The Talent portion will account for 35 percent. The Lifestyle and Wellness portions makes up 15 percent, and the Evening Wear/Onstage Question equals 25 percent.
For the Miss Clark County candidates, the Private Interview will account for 35 percent of their total. The Onstage Interview/Social Impact Initiative will make up 15 percent. The Red Carpet segment of the competition accounts for 15 percent, and Talent makes up the remaining 35 percent.
How does the competition help young women?
“For myself, it impacted several things in my life,” said Pitford. Pitford won the crown in 2000. After competing since 1997. “The scholarship helps relieve the financial burden of college. It’s also a great opportunity for young girls to develop confidence public speaking skills. I use those skills to this day for interviews and presentations. It’s also a great way to showcase their talents that we don’t often see in public, especially in the fine arts.”
Pitford’s competition talent was a dramatic reading.
“I encourage girls to think outside the box, beyond just singing and dancing. But those are great talents also,” she added.
“It’s also a great way to support different causes and develop a passion for volunteer work,” she said.
That skill took on extra importance for Pitford after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Pitford and the rest of the competition committee, Heather Webster and Cora Webster, have all been impacted by breast cancer.
“October is Breast Cancer Awareness month,” Pitford said. We wanted to partner with them to raise awareness. We also wanted to crown our titleholders earlier in the year and spend more time with them to prepare of the Miss Missouri competition.”
At the week-long Miss Missouri competition, Miss Outstanding Teen candidates will stay with their parents, while Miss Missouri candidates will be housed at MMA. Both groups will take place in volunteer activities, production practices and the evening preliminaries.
“You also develop a sisterhood with the other girls,” said Pitford. “I still keep in touch with the people I competed with.”