New venue, new format this year
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Those who take part in this year’s Miss Mayfest Pageant, as well as those who come to watch, will find things a little different and a lot more comfortable than for last year’s debut pageant.
Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Emily Wilson said this year’s showcase of feminine charm, poise and beauty (for girls between the ages of 4 and 18 years) will be missing one major aspect that was part of the event a year ago.
“This year’s Miss Mayfest Pageant will be held at Escambia County High School’s Hodnette Auditorium,” Wilson said. “It was so hot last year that it was just a lot on the girls to have big, beautiful ball gowns and their hair done, all melting away in the sun. The contestants, especially the little ones, don’t want to do that, especially when they’ve been corseted into a dress. It should make for a much more enjoyable experience for them.”
The move to an indoor venue will also make it more likely that parents, grandparents, other relatives and friends will better enjoy the pageant.
“Based on feedback from last year, the pageant has been moved to Friday night,” Wilson said. “This allows the young ladies to have dressing rooms with full length mirrors. There’s also air conditioning, and we now have the capacity of the auditorium, which allows for families to have comfortable seating. There’s also better parking and better access.”
ECHS is also allowing the Chamber to use its prom decorations, providing a more festive atmosphere to Miss Mayfest.
“With everything going on — the bicentennial, pageant practice and everything else — the first two weeks of May are crazy-busy,” said the Chamber director. “So, with all that going on, this saved us a massive chunk of time.”
Wilson pointed out that age divisions could be altered, depending upon the number of entrants in this year’s pageant.
“We won’t know the final groupings for age divisions until May 1 (Wednesday) because we don’t close registration until 5 (p.m.) that day,” she said. “If there are not enough girls in a particular division or a division doesn’t make, we reserve the right to combine some of them, like we had to do last year. We have a lot of interest and a lot of packets out, and there were a lot of last-minute entries last year, so we’re expecting a good number of girls.”
There will be a practice session for participants from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Participants can start checking in at 4 p.m. on Friday; doors will open at 5 p.m., and the pageant is set to begin at 6 p.m. Admission is $2 per person, at the door.
“We really wanted to bring Miss Mayfest to another level this year,” Wilson said. “It could take another year or two to get it where everybody knows that this is the way it is. But we want it to be an active, recognizable crown that represents Atmore.”