Eastern Arizona Courier Article by Brooke Curley
It’s been awhile since young ladies have been able to compete in the Miss Arizona Pageant, but Eastern Arizona College and the Graham County Chamber of Commerce hope to fix that.
The two organizations are in the early stages of creating the Miss Gila Valley Pageant. They hope contestants will be walking across the stage in November 2022.
Many details of the event are still being discussed, but the reasons behind the new event are clear, said Vance Bryce, executive director of the chamber.
“The Miss Gila Valley pageant is an opportunity for the business community to give back by providing leadership training and scholarship funds to young people in the community,” he said.
Chamber representatives plan to meet with representatives from Miss Arizona soon to determine what would be needed for Miss Gila Valley to participate in that event. The earliest that could happen would be in July 2023. In years past, Miss Graham County would compete for the Miss Arizona title, but that pageant ceased to exist many years ago.
“The Miss Graham County Pageant was a beloved event in our valley for many years. Our association with the Miss Gila Valley Pageant is to develop a competition that emphasizes scholarships and community involvement; to help young women feel more confident and know their self-worth,” said Kris McBride, EAC spokesman.
The pageant will focus empowering women and giving them a vision of personal strength and betterment, he said.
Brittany Hernandez, the membership services coordinator for the chamber, has already organized two pageants in the Gila Valley and will be assisting with this one.
Competing in and organizing pageants is a childhood dream.
Her family couldn’t afford to enter her into competitions, so she became an owner of a pageant business.
“To me, it’s not about beauty. It’s about stage presence. The way a girl carries herself,” she said. “They do interviews, it shows them leadership skills. One day they’re going to be leaders, be on stage and give presentations to groups. This is preparing them.”
Jen Cauthen, director for the Graham County Cinderella pageant said girls can compete in both organizations as long as they aren’t the overall champions in one or the other.