Queen Victoria Pageant takes on new look

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Jan. 24, 2014 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 24, 2014 at 7:25 p.m.

Chin up, shoulders back and smile big - it's Queen Victoria Pageant time.

The new director of the 2014 Victoria Livestock Show pageant, Christina Cook, plans to transform the annual pageant into something new.

"I'm making it more like the real pageants," she said.

One of the biggest changes Cook, 34, is making to the pageant is the prize. Participants vying for the crown will have to work harder this year, she said, because there will only be one crown per age division.

Unlike years past, only the winners will receive a jeweled crown, and the runners-up will receive sashes.

"The whole point of being a queen is to get that crown," Cook said. "If you're giving the runners-up a crown, how is it so special when you've finally won queen?"

She said she believes the change will encourage participants to work harder to win. It makes winning so much more special, she said.

That sense of competition is one she's experienced personally. She started competing in pageants when she was 13 years old in Jackson County and most recently competed in 2011 in Mrs. Texas International, in which she won second runner-up.

Cook, who owns All About The Dress, said she hopes her background in pageantry will raise the bar for the Queen Victoria Pageant and bring in more people to watch the show.

She's opening the show with a choreographed dance routine and adding a few extra events for judging.

The pageant will include an early one-on-one interview between the contestants and judges the morning of the show, an introduction, Western wear and evening gown portions and a final question.

"That's going to be interesting to see what kind of answers we'll get," Cook said. "You never know what kids will say."

McKenna Zacek, 2013 Queen Victoria, said Cook is doing a great job taking over the pageant.

"It was a great show before, and now, she's updating it," Zacek, 19, said.

The opening number is one part she is especially excited about. It will give the judges a chance to see more of the contestants' personalities, she said.

Jackie Parsons, a longtime volunteer for the Victoria Livestock Show, has been part of the show since she was a young girl. Though she never competed in the contest, her sister competed in the pageant, and her son and daughter have been on the stage, too.

"The pageant has a more professional feel to it now," Parsons, 40, said.

Cook is bringing in people from outside the community to serve as the pageant judges, which Parsons believes will help build the event into something that's more comparable to bigger pageants. The three judges have been selected by Cook and will have no ties to the girls competing in the show.

"I'm doing my best to get good, qualified judges," Cook said.

Because this year's livestock show will not host a parade, the Queen Victoria's Pageant court will not ride on a float to kick off the weeklong event. However, that doesn't mean the members of the court won't be able to participate in upcoming area parades, including the November veterans' parade and other livestock show parades, Parsons said.

"They're going out there and representing the Victoria Livestock Show," Parsons said, which is just one of the responsibilities the members of the court will have during the year.

Zacek said her experience as queen was amazing and that she was able to do so much for the community. When she takes her final walk on stage and says her final words, she thinks she might get a little emotional.

"I loved it. It was so much fun to promote something I was so involved in," Zacek said about the Victoria Livestock Show.

This year's show also is returning to the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts, which Cook and Parsons think will better fit the pageant with 476 seats.

"I'm just hoping for a smooth pageant with a great turnout," Cook said. "I'm looking forward to working with the new court."



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