In some systems, a preliminary is a requirement. In others, it is optional. In some systems, you have the choice to participate in a prelim or go at-large.
So, with all of these options, why do a preliminary if you can guarantee your spot and go at-large? (Read: 10 Tips for At-Large Titleholders)
Well, because in many cases, the prelim winners often make it farther in the competition than at-large titleholders and there are usual some awesome perks, too.
10 Reasons to Compete in a Preliminary Pageant
1. You gain friendships.
“When you compete at a prelim, you can compete with other girls that you will see at the state competition,” explained Sharon Deane, director and co-director Angela Nieves of Miss/Teen Sacramento Valley USA®, a prelim to Miss California USA®.
When going to a state pageant that hosts hundreds of girls, like California USA, already having established friendships and a buddy is helpful. (Read: Why Sisterhood is Important in Pageantry and How to Create It)
“Having friendships that you make on a local level help you feel more comfortable on the state level,” said Giselle Cabebe, Miss Teen Sacramento Valley USA 2016.
2. There are financial benefits.
The cost of competing can be substantial and can often make you wonder why doing a prelim would be worth it if you could go at-large. But even with the entry fee for the prelim if you win, you could spend less than going at-large on your own. (Read: How to Find Your Dream Gown Within Your Budget)
“A preliminary pageant generally has an entrance fee that is much lower than going at-large to state,” said Deane and Nieves. “On top of this, they will offer a prize package that includes a lot of perks and prizes from sponsors.”
These perks can include entry fees, wardrobe, headshots, coaching and much more depending on the preliminary.
“My local pageant, Miss Teen Sacramento Valley USA, offered a full entrance fee to compete at Miss California Teen USA as well as a prize package that included $500 towards any state competition gown, a sponsored swim suit from Venus Swimwear, and state competition headshots,” said Cabebe.
3. You can network while promoting your platform.
If your state is large enough to have preliminaries, then it makes it difficult to reach a large amount of people with your platform. But a preliminary helps you market yourself locally and put together a substantial service resume heading into the state competition. (Read: How To Organize Your Pageant Resume)
“One reason I began pageants was to meet and network with people that supported a cause that was especially important to me, which is working with children with disabilities,” said Cabebe. “My sister Mhelonnie has cerebral palsy and I was interested in working within my community to help children with disabilities and other children understand what children are going through.
Through pageantry and winning a preliminary pageant, I was able to use my title to gain entry into community events that supported my cause. In the past, I have gone to a school that taught children with disabilities through workshops and art.
This past year as Miss Sacramento Valley Teen USA, I was able to work with an organization called, ‘A Touch of Understanding’ that works with children, teaching them firsthand how children with disabilities experience the world around them.”
4. You gain onstage confidence and practice.
“Competing in a prelim, win or lose, it is still onstage practice,” said Deane and Nieves.
This is especially important if you are new to the system or a first-time pageant contestant. Getting that onstage experience before the big show is very helpful. (Read: 7 Ways To Get Winning Pageant Confidence)
“Competing amongst a smaller group of people can allow you to become more confident in yourself before competing at a state or national level,” said Brooklyn Lowery, Miss Sacramento Valley USA 2016. “At a preliminary competition, you learn how you perform on stage and can learn what you need to work on for state so that you feel comfortable and confident on a larger stage!”
5. You have a local director for training.
“Winning a prelim pageant or working with a local director can help you prepare for a state pageant by training before the big state pageant,” said Deane and Nieves.
The biggest thing a prelim can do for you, outside of financial support, is prepping you for the big show. Prelim directors have the insight and they know what to expect at the big event and can help guide you to going your best on that stage. (Read: Top 10 State Pageant Directors of 2016)
“As Miss Sacramento Valley Teen USA, my directors would organize training sessions “to help practice and prepare,” said Cabebe. “They organized mock interview sessions, guided me and on what news outlets’ information I should be reading and following before competing, and they would also send me questions every week to help me think outside of the box and form opinions on current events and self-reflection.”
6. You learn about yourself.
As we prepare for a pageant, we often tend to find out more about ourselves, and competing in a prelim first essentially rips the bandaid off so you know exactly where to start to prepare for the state competition. (Read: The Difference Between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence You MUST Know for Interview)
“Since you are asked questions about yourself, the more you practice before a state pageant, the more comfortable you will be at the state pageant,” said Deane and Nieves.
Think of the prelim as a rough draft or practice session for the actual pageant coming up.
“I used to hate public speaking,” said Cabebe. “I have pushed myself and realized even though it is hard for me, it gets easier the more I practice.
Putting together my bio for a local pageant helps me to understand myself and is a great rough draft for the bio you use at state. Even though the bios are very similar, it helps to try out my answers with the judges at a local prelim. Since most interview questions are taken from my bio, I can see how a judge reacts and if I need to adjust anything before interviewing at a state level.”
7. You will improve your communication skills.
Getting that test run of what it will be like to be a state titleholder in the system is a great experience as a local titleholder, and you’ll be able to adjust accordingly and answer those planning types of questions for the judges at the state level. (Read: Pageant Question About The Message You Would Spread as a Titleholder)
“If you win a preliminary pageant, you get to do so many fun activities that get your name out there, which is excellent exposure for any career path or dream,” said Lowery. “If you win, or even just compete in a preliminary pageant, it allows you to meet many new people that may be able to sponsor you later on for another pageant or make connections that may benefit you later in a career!”
8. You get the chance to judge before being judged.
You never know what opportunities you can get from being a titleholder, and they just might help you prepare for the pageant in a different way than you thought possible. (Read: What to do if You Think a Pageant Judge is Biased)
“One opportunity I had this year as Miss Sacramento Valley Teen USA was to judge at another pageant system,” said Cabebe. “This was a great learning tool for me because is shows what it is like to see contestants from a judges perspective.
When I saw someone doing something that I might be doing while on stage, it made me more self-aware and I was able to then go back and change the mistake myself.
When you are a judge, you can learn by observing and you can learn more about your own interview and onstage presence.”
It’s a popular cliché in pageants to talk about the sisterhood, but getting a sister titleholder from a prelim can really enhance your experience in a system. (Read: How Pageantry Can Help You Develop as a Woman)
“Winning a local prelim, you get a sister for life,” explained Deane and Nieves.
Much like the state queens, you and your local sister queen will spend a lot of time together and supporting each other.
“My favorite time this year with my sister queen was our time together driving to and from events throughout the year,” said Cabebe. “This was a fun time for just us where we could catch up and spend time, and we would sing karaoke together.”
Your sister queen is also in it for the long haul with you, through the training and the appearances, the fun and the frustrating and together you get through it.
“Having a sister queen, a.k.a. a best friend for life, is one of the best take always from competing in a preliminary pageant,” said Lowery. “Preparing for a larger pageant together is great! They know exactly what you’re preparing for and can help you and support you through it all!”
10. It’s just fun!
Because it is smaller than the state pageant, the local prelim is often a bit more personal and fun-focused.
“You can make it a family experience by becoming a preliminary titleholder,” said Lowery. “It can be something your whole family can be apart of! They can attend your special events and help you in preparing for your next pageant, which is a great way to spend time and get closer to your loved ones!”
Miss Sacramento Valley USA
Last year, Miss California USA had more than 220 contestants. Miss Sacramento Valley USA had just seven.
So, are you looking to compete in Miss California USA but want to experience the system first? A local is a great way to start and not be overwhelmed by the sheer size of the state pageant. There are locals all around California, so don’t fret if you are hours away from Sacramento.
However, for you NorCal girls, Miss Sacramento Valley USA and Miss Teen Sacramento Valley USA will be on June 11, 2017, at The Center at 2300 in Sacramento.
For more information and to apply, visit the website.
It can be super intimidating when the pool of candidates is so large like in states such as California, Texas, Florida and New York.
A preliminary, no matter the system, can always help set you on the right path toward the state or national crown. Even if you don’t win the preliminary crown, that doesn’t mean you can’t win the state or national crown by going at large.
Don’t let one loss get you down. Take it as a learning experience, watch the videos just like an athlete analyzes film, and make adjustments. Each time you step on the stage, you are one step closer to winning the crown.