W.Va. woman promotes pageants to help communities
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — Sara Taylor has found her niche in life.
As a pageant coach and director, she wants to help girls and young women to develop confidence in themselves and help their communities.
Taylor is director of the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival pageant. This year’s festival is June 21-23 at Parkersburg’s City Park.
Taylor, 27, of Parkersburg used her seven years of pageant experience to put together a pageant for the multi-cultural festival three years ago.
As a pageant contestant, Taylor was named the 2014 Pure American National Miss Sweetheart, the 2015 Ms. St. Albans Riverfest and the 2016 Ms. WV Coal Festival.
She is the founder of West Virginia Pageant Connection, which updates people on fairs and festivals pageants in the state. She wants to increase the number of contestants at the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals Pageant.
Taylor said she approached the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival Board in December 2015 about adding a pageant to the City Park festival.
“I thought this would be good for the festival,” said Taylor, a 2011 graduate of Parkersburg South High School.
In early 2016, the festival board told Taylor it liked her idea of a pageant. She set up a pageant booth at the festival that summer and received considerable interest.
In 2017, four or five girls wrote essays so Taylor could determine if there was interest in a multi-cultural festival pageant. There was an interest, she said, and a pageant queen and teen were selected.
The essay is now an option for contestants in the multi-cultural festival pageant. This year’s festival queen, Ally Harper of Point Pleasant, won the essay portion of the pageant.
There were 22 contestants this year for the pageant held in April.
Pageant winners this year are Harper, multi-cultural festival Mrs. Jessica Madison, multi-cultural festival Ms. Gabrielle Maynard, multi-cultural festival Forever Queen Dana Johnson and multi-cultural festival Pre-Teen Jasmine Wright.
Taylor wants this festival pageant to stand out, try new ideas and be a different type of pageant.
Pageants, in general, are more than just beauty and looking nice in a bathing suit, she said. MOV Multi-Cultural Festival pageant contestants display their intelligence and are judged on their speaking skills and good grades in school, Taylor said. They wore formal, interview and introduction outfits on stage this year.
Taylor stresses to the pageant winners the importance of helping others in the community.
Taylor is pleased that Harper will be competing in the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals Pageant next January, representing the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival.
Taylor said she won the Ms. Winterfest Queens Pageant in St. Albans in 2017 but decided to relinquish the title to concentrate on helping the multi-cultural festival and pageant grow.
Taylor calls the local pageant “my science,” as she studies the walk, interview and other aspects of the event.
Taylor is happy that her daughter, Grace, 7, enjoys being an ambassador for the Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival, now in its 24th year.
Taylor wants the pageant to bring more awareness about the multi-cultural festival. She is co-secretary, along with Vicki Patterson, on the festival board.
Foam crowns and stickers will be handed out to children at the pageant tent in City Park during this year’s festival. As members of pageant “royalty,” the kids will be able to get their picture taken with Harper and the other queens.
Information from: News and Sentinel (Parkersburg, W.Va.), http://www.newsandsentinel.com