THOMASVILLE -- Three area young women are hoping to bring home the crowns at Miss Georgia's Outstanding Teen and Miss Georgia competitions next week in Columbus.
Part of the Miss America organization, the largest scholarship program in the U.S. for women, these pageants focus on their contestants' physical, intellectual and artistic talents. The winner of each pageant will receive a prize package that includes scholarship money, flowers, a silver tray and a crown.
Last year, Hannah Barfield almost walked away with the Teen Miss Georgia crown -- she was first runner-up.
"I've still got the same attitude as I did last year but I learned my lesson at preliminaries where I thought I was going to win and I just placed," said Barfield. "I love my clothes, platform and I feel good about everything. If I don't win it will be OK and I am just going to be who I am. I've had fun but if you stress yourself out, then you don't do good. I just want to do my personal best."
The teen pageant has undergone some changes this year, including a fitness portion. Originally a freak point for Barfield, who classified herself as "tall, spastic person" instead of a "tall, graceful person," she breathed a sigh of relief after realizing she only had a walking segment.
A singer, she will perform "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from the Broadway musical "Gypsy," a song she fell in love with during a spring break trip to New York City.
Barfield got the idea for her platform from personal experience.
"My dad died three days before Christmas when I was in kindergarten and I was immediately enrolled in Rainbows and I went through it K-3 grade," she said. "It's just a peer support group where you get with kids who are also grieving a loss that can range from divorce, death, incarcerated parent or rape. When I found out that we had to have a platform for Teen Georgia I knew this was what I wanted to do and immediately got to work on it."
Barfield has been a mentor to troubled kids in Rainbows, a non-profit international program, for several months.
"If a 40 year old can't deal with divorce or a death of a parent after decades of experience then how on earth can we fathom a five year old can without support," she asked.
Barfield's plan is to eventually incorporate the program into the justice system. An example of this would be if a couple divorces, they would receive information on the Rainbows program for their children.
Barfield is also hoping to meet with Judge Harry J. Altman and speak to the Georgia State Senate the next time it is in session about Rainbows.
The interview portion of the Miss Georgia Outstanding Teen pageant is Tuesday with preliminaries on Wednesday and Thursday and the final competition on Friday. The winner of this pageant will move on to the new Miss America's Most Outstanding Teen pageant.
"I think that the Miss America organization is great for girls because it allows you to be well-rounded," said Joy McCalla, a first time Miss Georgia contestant. "The most beautiful girl in the state won't always win. She has to be an articulate, smart, talented, modern woman and someone who is very confident."
For this reason, preparation has been the main thing on her mind.
"I am just getting everything together, mentally more than anything, because it is going to be a really strenuous week," she said. "I make lists for everything and I've been trying to follow my list. It's a new and big experience and is not just like a pageant down the street. There's lots of preparation and I'm hoping I'm as prepared as I can be for it."
Excited about her trip to Columbus, McCalla said she is most looking forward to the interview portion of competition.
"It's my favorite and I'm going to school to be a broadcaster," said McCalla. "I love to talk and that is what I feel most comfortable doing."
Another thing she is comfortable doing is promoting her platform.
"Everyone has a natural ability and can use that to help people in any way they possibly can," said McCalla.
Regardless of whether she wins, McCalla wants to enjoy her Miss Georgia experience.
"I'm excited about taking in the whole experience," she said. "There's been so much work and so many people took the time to get me prepared for this level. I'm excited and would like to thank everybody who has helped me become prepared and supported me whenever I make an appearance. Thanks to the people of Thomasville for being so welcoming to me, especially since I don't live in Thomasville."
Like Barfield, Lumpkin's platform is one close to her heart -- her older brother died five years ago in an accident involving underage drinking.
"I realized if it can happen to him, it can happen to anyone," said Lumpkin. "Teenagers don't realize that no matter how smart they are that they cannot outsmart the effects of alcohol."
Thanks to her 15 minute video "Think Again," currently being shown on local access television, Lumpkin hopes to continue expanding her opportunities to a statewide and national level. She has already taken meetings with several key legislators and government officials about her platform.
Returning for her second try at the Miss Georgia crown, Lumpkin said preparations for this year's pageant have been "an experience" and very different from last year.
"Miss Georgia last year was definitely a learning experience," she said. "The first time you go, you learn so much. You don't know what to expect. People try to tell you and you listen but you don't always follow it."
Lumpkin has been working with a personal trainer since January and her talent is a tap number to "Big Time," choreographed by a former Rockette and costumed by the parent of a current Rockette.
While she would like to win, Lumpkin is keeping herself grounded.
"Like everyone, you want to win, but you have to know why you are going to Miss Georgia," she said. "The crown is just the icing on the cake. I want to do the best I can. I've done everything in my power to prepare but I have a 1/53 chance."
Despite the excitement of competition, Lumpkin said she is most looking forward to meeting one of this year's seven judges, Katie Harmon, 2002 Miss America.
"She's my favorite ever and I'm super excited about that," she said. "It's going to be like I'm in awe."
The Miss Georgia pageant runs throughout the week and will be broadcast live locally on WALB-10 on Saturday from 9-11 p.m. The winner will move on to the Miss America pageant.
This Week's Circulars
- Six suspects arrested, two pounds of drugs seized
- Chastain kicks off District 2 City Council candidacy by listening
- Two dead in Grady County wreck
- Box-cutter wielding assault suspect still at large
- My long journey back home
- Authorities say to lock your car doors at night
- Juneteenth celebration draws from all over
- Joiner to represent Thomas County at Miss Georgia Forestry Pageant
- Treehouse fundraiser Oakfest ready to take the stage again
- City abuzz with two local film productions
COVID-19 vaccine survey
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