SDSU hosts pageant of confidence and class

Doner Auditorium will host an event of glitz and glam where young women will compete for one of three titles qualifying them for the 70th annual Miss South Dakota pageant.

Executive Director Cecilia Knutson said there are 13 competitors for the titles of Miss SDSU, Miss Brookings and Miss Dakota Plains. Ninety women have been crowned since the pageant’s beginning in 1949, and three more will be crowned this year.

In addition to qualifying for the event in June, they will also receive scholarship money to continue their education

“Within our organization, we put a large emphasis on education and community service,” Knutson said. “Our pageant is not based just on looks as most people would assume.”

There are five areas of competition for each title. Talent accounts for 35 percent of the final score, interview is 25 percent, lifestyle and fitness in swimsuit is 15 percent, evening gown is 20 percent and on-stage question is 5 percent.

Carly Goodhart, Miss Dakota Rose 2015, said each area of competition contributes to a woman’s confidence, specifically the swimsuit competition.

Goodhart said the judges aren’t looking for a contestant that is necessarily “skinny” through the swimsuit portion. “They (the judges) just want to see that the contestant is confident and living a healthy lifestyle,” Goodhart said. “Skinny isn’t healthy.”

While all areas in the pageant are important for the contestant’s final score, there is one that helps her explain her viewpoints more thoroughly. The interview portion is completed several hours before the actual pageant, according to the Miss SDSU website.

“The judges want to choose a woman who is well spoken, articulate and educated on current issues in society today,” Knutson said.

The impact of scholarships for these young ladies is, as Knutson says, a huge help, but there is a long lasting effect as well. Knutson said the pageant circuit has helped her with speaking in front of groups, staying up-to-date with current events and to develop confidence. 

After the three contestants are crowned, they will be working diligently to prepare for the 70th Miss South Dakota pageant in June. When asked about her experience at the pageant, Goodhart shared how supportive the other competitors were.

“They were absolutely incredible,” she said. “They’ll probably be bridesmaids at my wedding.”

Knutson and Goodhart’s experience with pageantry is one they wish upon every young lady.

“It doesn’t even feel like a competition,” Goodhart said. “It feels like you’re going out there competing against yourself, but with your friends.”

With practices going all weekend, these ladies will be ready to compete for the titles of Miss SDSU, Miss Brookings and Miss Dakota Plains on Feb. 28 in Doner Auditorium at 2 p.m.

“It’s a big weekend for the girls, but our pageant is quite a production,” Knutson said. “We strive to provide the audience with not only a pageant but a show as well.”