Many years ago, I remember thinking of all ways that the Miss Minnesota/Miss America Pageant has changed my life! When I was in college, I was an athlete. I thought like an athlete, I worked like an athlete and I spoke like an athlete. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined competing in a pageant. I know this sounds cliche and so many women who compete say this - but every single one of us (those who have competed) hit a point in our lives when we realize that pageants are not what we "thought" of them to be. They aren't all about beauty and appearance. No - they are about working hard, finding yourself, discovering that you are worth SO MUCH MORE than you ever imagined possible. They bring out confidence, service and grace.
Never did I imagine that I would be apart of this wonderful community of women. The largest scholarship to women...The Miss America Organization! Lately there have been several articles and news reports about the relevance of the Miss America Pageant, especially since the Miss USA pageant when Miss Utah struggled through her on stage question.
On Stage Question - without a doubt - is my least favorite part of competition. It's not that I can't answer the question, because I know I can. It's just that you have all these eyes starring at you, all your hard work is starring right back at them. You are trying to remain composed, while keeping a smile on your face and listen so carefully to the question that is being asked. If you're lucky, it'll be about your platform (mine was about literacy) - but sometimes they are about politics...and lets face it - there is so much going on in this world that it is almost impossible to know EVERYTHING that is going on, while continuing to prepare for EVERY SINGLE phase of competition.
So there I stood, on stage, by myself - while the voice of God asked my question (not really God, but it was Miss MN 2005 Karyn Stordahl who was backstage)... Long story short, I misheard the question, tried to answer it to the best of my ability while sounding like I knew what I was talking about. I will never forget walking off stage, heading back into the dressing room and looking the other contestants in the face...they were watching me on-stage from the TV's in the dressing room....
I asked them if I completely screwed up the question since I know I misheard it. I will never forget Miss Tina Rosanthal - "Yes, honey, I'm afraid you did...basically you said that you supported Nukes"...WHAT!!!!!!!!!!
The only thing I could do to get through the remaining portion of this pageant was to make light of the situation - I turned it into a joke...by chest was, well, rather voluptuous, so I talked about them as though they were my "nukes"...
After receiving my critiques from the judges (this was back when you could request them) - not one of them caught my answer...instead they commented how confident I spoke and how I spoke so fluently of the subject!
So, Miss Utah, even though you bombed your on stage question - there are some of us out there who know what you are going through and how it feels. I bet you'll learn from this and move on...you'll be that much better of a speaker, because every time you open your mouth, you are going to remember that moment and you will do anything to avoid that humiliation! I know this, because that's what I do :)
This past Miss Minnesota Pageant, I had the HONOR of bringing my favorite girl in the entire world with me - My daughter, Miss Callie Lynae :) She was in complete AWE of the whole thing. She was able to go back stage, meet local celebrities, and even have her picture taken with Miss America's Outstanding Teen, Rachel Wyatt.
Callie With Grandma Phillis (Angie McDermott's Grandma)
They were playing Princesses - what else :) Baby Avery was in the background playing with his Grandma :)
Miss Coon Rapid's Outstanding Teen, Kathryn Kueppers
We sat in the 3rd Row - front and Center! She brought her light up wand to wave so all the "Princesses" could see her!
This was how she sat almost the entire pageant...in a daze!
Gramma & Bruce (My mom Miss MN President & Miss MN Director)
She told my mom to move so she could sit next to her new friend :)
:) Angie and I with our kids (minus my boys, but I'm not sure this is really "their thing"!)
After the pageant, Callie wanted to have her picture taken with every "Princess" that she saw. If she thought they were a princess, I went with it :)
Miss Minnesota's Outstanding Teen, Corinna Swiggum
Miss Minnesota 2012 Siri FreehCallie walked up to her like she was completely amazed...
Miss America's Outstanding Teen, Rachel Wyatt!
She is an absolute DOLL! I love her! She was so great with Callie and made her feel like she was so important! Thank you Rachel :)
Miss America's Outstanding Teen Rachel Wyatt
Miss Northwest Rebecca Yeh - who was crowned on Saturday night asMiss Minnesota 2013 (Callie really knows how to pick them :))
Miss Minneapolis Sammie Phillippi
Callie with Miss America's Outstanding Teen again :) Actually, Rachel wanted one more hug!
One of the Miss Teens!
Gina Cavanagh - Callie thought she was a princess...she's the Miss Minnesota Treasurer :)
Miss North Metro - Elsie Arisa
Friday evening was the Crowns & Gowns Gala where 3 former Miss Minnesota America's were present and SEVERAL Miss Minnesotas! It was such an incredible night :)
My sister Heidi and I :) So many photos of us and I think this one shows that we actually do look alike - I never really saw it until this one :)
Miss America 1948 BeBe Shopp, Miss America 1977 Dorothy Benham & Miss America 1989 Gretchen Carlson with Miss Minnesota 2012 Siri Freeh
All the formers that were present - LOVE this :)
Back when Lynne Schacher was Miss Minnesota in 1989, my mom was preparing to board an airplane with her as her official traveling companion to the Miss America Pageant in Atlantic City. I remember hugging Lynne before she boarded her plane and she kissed me on my cheek and whispered into my ear, "Cori, you Bless my Heart". I am 30 years old, and I still cry when I see her!
Miss America 1948 - BeBe Shopp
My mom with Kathryn Knuttila Miss MN 2010
Two of my favorites: Luke & Brenda Merchlewitz
My Godmother, Debbie and my mom and I :)
My mom with one of her favorites - Jo Bender :) Miss Minnesota 1992
My mom and I being silly :)
I never won the title of Miss Minnesota - even though that is what I was once working towards. The endless hours of studying my current events, promoting my platform, exercising & dieting, volunteering, mock interviewing, and then repeating all of the above...I didn't win.
I remember that moment - being called 4th Runner-Up...forcing a smile on my face - looking out at my family as though I had let them down, even though I knew that they were so proud of me...fighting back those tears was one of the hardest things I had ever done. Was it a hoax? Was the ballet read wrong? Who knows, but I can tell you one thing...
I may not have been Miss Minnesota 2007, but I am Miss MOM forever! And that is the BEST TITLE YET!!!!
One more thing - and this part if for you, my darling daughter! So many people ask me if I am going to put you into pageants. If I am going to allow you to compete. Well, you know what, I hope that one day you do choose to compete in the Miss Minnesota/America Organization. Because it will help develop you into a strong, confident woman who gives back to her community. Who works hard believes in herself! It's not that I can't raise you to be these things, but through this organization, you develop these skills through hard work and determination - you develop them while finding out exactly who you are, what you want, and who you want to be!
I love you Miss Callie Lynae! You already make me so proud :)