Young contestants vie for a crown (w/gallery,video)

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

Jan. 25, 2014 at 10:04 p.m.
Updated Jan. 24, 2014 at 7:25 p.m.

Avery Mead looked up with her deep blue eyes and said, "That's a lot of makeup."

The 4-year-old was captivated by the artist's boundless vials of shimmering eye shadows and lipsticks, and based on the way her small nose crinkled into her porcelain face, she appeared to be slightly afraid of the buzzing that came from the airbrush machine spraying her with a delicate layer of foundation.

With each spritz, she kicked out her crimson red and zebra print cowgirl boots.

"Open your eyes," the artist calmly said. "Look at my shirt and count the lines.

"Can you do that for me?"

Avery nodded.

Her blonde curls bounced in agreement as she slowly began to count.

One. Two. Three.



"Your eyes are still shut."

She giggled.

Saturday night, Avery took the stage with 17 other contestants at the Leo J. Welder Center in sync with the music.

The contestants kicked off the Queen Victoria Pageant with a choreographed dance number. The event is celebrated in conjunction with the Victoria Livestock Show, which begins Feb. 20 with a carnival.

As the music filled the auditorium, contestants ran on the stage, clapping and dancing to Kenny Loggins' 1984 hit "Footloose."

All About the Dress owner Christina Cook took over as director of the pageant this year, making a few changes, such as adding the opening dance.

"I think it's going to turn the pageant around and make it more up-to-date," she said.

For Avery, keeping in step wasn't a challenge. The Trinity Episcopal School kindergartner is already into competitive cheerleading with Mannings Gymnastics Centerplex and dances with Busby Dancenter.

During the holiday season, she performed as a cherub in "The Nutcracker." Avery said she skipped in a circle, held a trumpet and even met the Sugar Plum Fairy. Next year, she said, she wants to be one of the mice.

Marissa Mead said performing comes naturally to her daughter.

"She is very outgoing," Mead said. "She loves to be in front of a lot of people. She's always been that way - the center of attention."

Mead, 26, said she also participated in the Queen Victoria pageant when she was a teen and took home the Junior Miss title. Though that was her first and last pageant, she wasn't hesitant to get Avery involved.

"It's fun," she said.

"I like to see the excitement out of Avery."

Avery and the 17 other contestants in the pageant participated in a one-on-one interview with the judges earlier in the day in which they answered a few questions about themselves.

"I told them I love purple," Avery said, "and that I like playing with my friends."

Avery not only made a few new buddies at the pageant, but she also charmed the audience when she exited the stage with a thumbs-up and a smile.



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