Hey, young ladies — why not toss your tiara onto the stage and try out to become the next Miss El Dorado County? It’s not just about physical beauty anymore — there are rewards brighter than the crowns that grace the winners’ heads.
Alora Martin is only 19 years old, yet this is the second year she has organized and presented the Miss El Dorado County Pageant, which includes not only that title but Junior Miss and Miss Teen El Dorado County.
Martin, herself a pageant veteran and future beauty contest participant, said her age is probably the biggest stumbling block she has faced in walking this particular runway.
“My biggest challenge restarting the pageant has been a combination of finding contestants and getting their parents to take me seriously,” said the woman with the flowing long hair and absolutely stunning smile. “Most people expect someone older to be in charge.”
But make no mistake — the lady knows what she wants and is determined to get it. Perhaps surprisingly, what she wants is actually for other young women to enjoy the benefits that accrue from competing in pageants.
“My greatest reward has been to see the growth in the girls, to see them go from quiet and shy in rehearsal to blossoming onstage,” said Martin, owner of Sashay the Stage Productions.
Martin, who grew up in Rescue, said as a little girl she always dreamed of participating in the Miss El Dorado County competition but by the time she was of age, the contest no longer filled the stage at the county fair.
She was determined to do something about that and last year was the premier of the resurrection of the pageant.
The 2014 pageant saw Sharee Daley crowned as Miss El Dorado County, with Tristan Hunter and Kylee Hunter taking the titles of Miss Teen El Dorado County and Jr. Miss Teen El Dorado County, respectively.
“Yes, they are sisters,” said proud mom Rebecca Hunter. “The judges had no idea. Both of them winning made it all the more fun.” And the fun kept going, according to the Hunter sisters, who live in Cameron Park.
“This has been one of the most memorable experiences of my youth,” said Tristan. “I encourage all young women to participate. It’s a great way to make new friends, increase self-confidence and learn lifelong skills.
“I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.”
Tristan said one of the highlights of her yearlong reign as Miss Teen El Dorado County was participating in the American Legion’s Fourth of July parade in South Lake Tahoe.
“I was honored to be in the same parade as some of our nation’s veterans,” she said.
Kylee agreed with her sibling about the year past.
“I encourage every young woman to do this pageant — it’s a wonderful experience and confidence booster,” said the Junior Miss El Dorado County. “One of the most fun experiences for me was being a judge for the Miss Gold Country Pageant and seeing all the beautiful participants.”
Kylee said she also got a kick out of a youngster who asked whether she might try on Kylee’s shiny tiara.
“When I was at an event for Junior Miss El Dorado County I was able to let a little girl wear my crown and make her feel like she truly was a princess,” Kylee recalled. “That was the moment when I decided that I would help show young girls how much they are really worth. It inspired me to be a role model of good morals and modesty.
“My goal is to help inspire young girls to believe they are all princesses, being who they truly are.”
And that has been Pageant Director Martin’s goal all along, to promote self-esteem and confidence in young women.
“I don’t care what they wear or how they walk, if they have the courage to step on the stage in front of an audience, they are incredibly beautiful on the inside, in my opinion,” said Martin. “I don’t think you can overstate the value of that.”
Judges for the Miss El Dorado County pageant consider poise and confidence, along with the contestants’ ability to convey their opinions eloquently, among other criteria, according to Martin. She said it’s also important that they are enjoying themselves.
“We want to make this pageant the experience of a lifetime,” she said.
Toward that end, Martin said she wishes to thank a few folks for backing her efforts to return the pageant to the county fair.
“The El Dorado County Fair has given us so much assistance and support, which has been amazing,” she said. “We are also very proud this year to welcome some new supporters — the Jenni Lynn Boutique in Cameron Park and Early Toast Mimosa House in El Dorado Hills.”
Martin said more help would be entirely welcome, particularly sponsors to donate prizes for the contestants and winners.
It is not necessary to have a sponsor in order to compete for the pageant titles, Martin added, and the deadline for entering this year’s contest is June 11.
“Registering on the website, sashaythestage.com, is most certainly the easiest way,” said the director. “Simply print out the paperwork and mail it in. Contestants can attach a check or pay through the link on the Website.”
Martin, who herself has been in beauty pageants since age 2 and is preparing for competing in an upcoming pageant, said she would like to expand the El Dorado County event.
“I would love to find a way to include younger girls and start more pageants for them to participate in,” she said. “I’m not entirely sure what my future plans are at this point, but no matter what, the pageant will always fit in.
“This is my passion and I can’t imagine not doing it.”
Show your support for that youthful fire by attending the 2015 Miss El Dorado County pageant, which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, June 18, at the Budweiser stage at the fairgrounds, 100 Placerville Drive in Placerville. The El Dorado County Fair is June 18-21 this year.