From livestock show to pageant princess, youth showcases different talents (VIDEO)

Feb. 11, 2012 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Feb. 11, 2012 at 8:12 p.m.

Avery Bartay, 6, gets her makeup done in preparation for the Western Wear portion of the Queen Victoria Pageant on Saturday at the VISD Fine Arts Center.

Avery Bartay, 6, gets her makeup done in preparation for the Western Wear portion of the Queen Victoria Pageant on Saturday at the VISD Fine Arts Center.   Amanda Steen for The Victoria Advocate

Preparation for the Queen Victoria Pageant for Junior Queen contestant Jordan Johnson was, in some ways, like her preparation to show animals at the Victoria Livestock Show.

The 13-year-old has four years of experience showing hogs, but Saturday marked her first competition in the Queen Victoria Pageant - which started as the "Western Days Queen Competition" in 1963.

Jordan is fully responsible for the hog she raises for the stock show. For six months, she feds, exercises and cares for the hog.

She has placed in three of the four livestock shows she has competed in - once she won second place.

"I think from afar, Jordan thought pageants were just about dressing up and having fun," said her mother, Constance Filley Johnson. "But now she sees how much practice and work goes into the front end of it."

Rather than caring for and developing a familiarity with hogs to show the judges, Jordan prepared herself to face the judges for the pageant.

When preparing for the livestock show, Jordan must practice walking with with her hog - and not tripping in the sand.

She practiced walking for the pageant with the other 36 contestants, refining her poise and posture.

When showing hogs, Jordan must be prepared to answer questions the judges may have about her hog for the showmanship portion of the livestock show.

While Jordan's hogs are judged by the meat on their bones and their overall shape, Jordan and the other contestants Saturday night were judged on personality, poise, presence, confidence, overall impression and their responses to the interview questions.

Jordan has a little more than two weeks to prepare her fifth hog, "Wilbur," for the Victoria Livestock Show but final preparations for the Queen Victoria pageant started early Saturday morning.

She woke up about 7 a.m. and packed her preparation supplies into her camouflage duffel bag - initialed in pink.

"I like camo, and the bag has my initials," Jordan said. "I am kind of a girly girl, but I have my tomboy side. I enjoy shopping, but I also like hunting."

In addition to cheerleading and hanging out with friends, Jordan goes fishing and hunting with her dad, George Johnson.

"She is an excellent deer hunter," Johnson said. "She and her dad spend a lot of time together doing that."

The older three categories of girls were interviewed early Saturday morning, but the younger boys and girls were interviewed on stage during the final performance.

Jordan also practiced answering test questions with her fellow contestants to prepare for the individual interview portion of the pageant, which she did at 10:39 a.m. Saturday.

After the interview, the girls were free to rest and prepare for the rest of the pageant until they returned for a final rehearsal.

Jordan was also required to prepare and memorize a short speech for the "Western Wear" portion of the pageant where all 37 contestants introduce themselves to the audience.

"I didn't realize we had to give a speech in front of people," said Jordan, a student at Stroman Middle School. Preparing for the pageant helped her overcome her stage fright, she said.

After the introduction, each contestant made an appearance in formal wear, then answered a final question for the judges and the audience before the new title winners were chosen. "The contestants are also competing for bouquets, sashes, tiaras and belt buckles and such," said Leesa Brown, the director of the pageant.

The backstage of the Victoria Fine Arts Center was a flurry of activity as all the girls primped and rehearsed for the final portion of the pageant at 3 p.m.

"I think the biggest fear is showing up and being in the same outfit as someone else," Johnson said.

Avery Bartay, 6, watched Rudolph on her portable DVD player so she could sit still while her hair was curled for her third year competing in the pageant.

Ella Jander, 4, made her first appearance on stage alone Saturday night, but her mother was full of jitters.

"She has been on stage before with 12 other girls for a dance recital, but this is her first year by herself," said her mother LeAnn Jander. "We hope she'll go through with it."

And Ella did present well, winning the title of Cowgirl Tot.

While she did not place in the competition this year, Jordan said she enjoyed trying something new and meeting lots of new friends while preparing for the pageant.



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