My daughter went to the open call in April and participated in her first state pageant in June. While the fees do add up quite quickly when you start adding extras, I do not agree with the majority who is stating that the top spenders are the chosen winners.
The girst who were most prepared and excelled above the others are certainly the ones who won in our experience. Many first timers go in without being informed of the rules or recommendations of what scores well, while girls who have competed before know exactly what the judges are looking for. As one of the youngest in her age group and a first time pageant participant, my daughter came home with 7 trophies, including the top prizes in one of her optionals. When we received the judges scores, they were right in line with what I had imagined and observed for myself.
We even requested the judges comments in addition to the mailed number scores and rankings and were able to receive those via email very promptly. Again, it was right in line with what I had observed for myself. Sadly, I believe a lot of people base their poor ratings of the pageant on the fact that THEIR child did not win rather than truly evaluating the overall big picture of what the pageant represents and how they give multiple avenues for contestants to shine and to win in the areas where they excel. The pageant is good about making sure no one leaves empty handed so ALL state finalists get a small trophy.
Anyone who participates in a certain amount of activites (serval combinations of activities totally 5 or more) can also get a spirit award. In addition there are a few optionals that require no entry fee that contestants can win as well. At least 1 of them I know is determined by the contestants themselves. As for paying money for prizes, I will say that the advertising awards can definitely be obtained by the amount of money spent on ads for the state or national program book BUT ads are not required and the advertising awards are totally separate from the pageant competition awards.
So, with all that said here is my summary overview... Pros: Builds confidence, good sportsmanship, and promotes valuable life skills. Offers several ways to win. Cons: Costly.
Nationals always takes place in California during the week of Thanksgiving. Changing the location from year to year or even changing the dates for Nationals would likely boost participation.
Would I do it again: Yes! Would I recommend a friend: Yes!
Product or Service Mentioned: National American Miss Beauty Pageant.
Reason of review: Good quality.