Long claims Miss Labor Day crown
Out of six shimmering contestants, Kelsi Long shined the brightest Saturday night when she claimed the winning title and two awards during the 2013 Miss Labor Day pageant.
Aside from taking home the crown, Long received awards for most creative fashion and Miss Congeniality. She also will be receiving $2,500 that will help pay her college tuition at Haywood Community College next year.
“I’m just shocked, grateful — that’s all I can think of right now,” she said, still shaking from excitement. “I’m just so grateful for everyone who helped me get here.”
Out of the six Pisgah High School rising seniors competing in the pageant, Ashton Saunders was first runner-up and winner of a $1,000 scholarship. Hannah Warren came in third with a $500 scholarship. The other competing contestants were Emily Rhea, Rachel Revis and Olivia Burnette.
While each contestant was impressive in her professional attire, each of them truly shined during the evening gown competition.
“I love getting dressed up, so it made me feel pretty,” Warren said about her evening gown.
“My favorite part was the evening gown,” Long agreed. “I felt really pretty and elegant. You don’t get to dress up like that very often.”
The girls were judged based on their personal interviews before the pageant, on their onstage interview as well as their poise on stage.
The final criteria for judging came down to one question for each of the top three contestants: What is the biggest issue facing women today?
Saunders was the first to answer.
“I would say the biggest issue facing young women today is their apathy toward their career,” Saunders said. “I believe women should be good role models to their children and pursue their dreams.”
Next in line was Long, who responded without hesitation.
“This biggest issue young women face today is accepting the body they have,” she said. “With all the media around us today, if you’re curvy you’re told to be skinny, and if you’re skinny you’re told to be curvy, so I would see our biggest obstacle is accepting the bodies we’re given.”
Warren said the biggest issue facing women was how they present themselves.
“Girls our age have a hard time learning who they are because of how culture presents the ideal woman to be, and really, beauty is about who you are and not who society says you should be,” she said.
Shortly after the crowing, Allie Ammons, last year’s Miss Labor Day winner, was putting the crown on Long’s head.
“We’re just overwhelmed,” said Long’s father, Tommy after meeting his daughter on stage after the pageant. “I couldn’t believe that was our little baby on the stage. We’re just so happy she won.”
“Seeing her on stage made us feel very proud,” added her mother, April.
Long said she never expected to take home the crown, adding that she joined the pageant to try something new.
“And also the scholarship was a good motivator,” she said with a laugh. “I was not expecting to win at all.”
Long, who wants to go to school to become an English teacher, said she was grateful for the experience as well as the scholarship.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said. “I feel like this just helped me prepare for the real world. The judges — that would be the same as a job interview.”
Saunders said her $1,000 scholarship would help her afford tuition at HCC before pursing a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising.
Saunders admitted to being afraid of falling on stage, but she and her competitors managed to stay poised and elegant throughout the evening.
“I expected to trip,” Saunders said with a laugh. “I am so, just honored. I didn’t think I’d get this far.”
Warren said her $500 scholarship was going toward her tuition at East Tennessee State University. She said she hopes to attend medical school in the future.
Still in a daze, Warren was still thrilled to come in third place.
“I came into this not even thinking I’d place,” she said. “So to hear my name get called, even second runner-up is just amazing. It was a great experience. I feel a lot more confident about myself now.”
Eddie Foxx and Sharon Greene of Asheville’s KISS Country radio station hosted the ceremony again this year, throwing in a bit of witty humor between each segment. Samantha Deaver also added to the entertainment by singing two songs during intermissions.
Long and the runner-ups will be making an appearance in Canton’s Labor Day parade and Long will continue to serve at various functions in her role as Miss Labor Day until passing on her crown next year.
The pageant was held by the Canton Education Foundation.