Location, location, location. There is so much to consider when choosing a location to host any event, let alone a pageant.
I’ve had pageants held in gyms with a dressing room in a balcony, pageants where the dressing room was immediately off to the side of the stage with no mirrors, auditoriums so tight the judges table was partially on the stage, pageants in a church in the middle of the desert, and pageants with carpeted stages.
When I am choosing to compete in a pageant, I take a lot into consideration, including the location from my home, the cost to travel there and what I’ll get to see if I go.
Remember, as a titleholder, your travel is often not covered, so consider it when choosing what pageant to compete in.
And directors, make sure to pick a location that girls and families want to come to that will make the trip worthwhile.
When choosing the location for its national pageant, Miss All-Star United States managed to check all of their boxes with Savannah, Georgia, and offered to share their tips for picking a location for yours.
5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Pageant Location
1. A city that is pageant and tourist friendly
You don’t want your families to be cooped up in the hotel all day while their girls are in rehearsal, nor do you want your girls to be bored during their down time. So, it is key to pick a city that can double as a vacation destination as families have to take time off work to come and support their favorite contestants.
This is why many pageants have recently started to choose locations like Disney World and Disneyland to host the pageant. But, this strategy comes with a large price tag, and while other locations may also have a large price tag, it may fit into the budget better and still offer a family environment and pageant functionality.
You also want to make sure your location is easy to get to and that travel to the city is relatively inexpensive during pageant time to help with expenses of your contestants. (Read: 5 Ways to Travel to Nationals)
Savannah offers an airport with multiple carriers and flights throughout the day.
It is extremely historic having been founded in 1733, it is close to the ocean, has plenty of rivers, and there are lots to see. Families will have no problem finding something to keep themselves busy, and Mom can even take a breather at the spa or relaxing at the beach while her contestant is in rehearsal.
Savannah is also home to a huge St. Patrick’s Day celebration and often has events going on downtown. You can also eat at Paula Deen’s restaurant, tour the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low and first meeting site of the Girl Scouts, take a walking or bus tour of the historic sites, take a ghost tour at night, go on a riverboat cruise, visit the museums and squares, visit historic cemeteries, go fishing and crabbing, and numerous other outings outside of the historic district including Fort Pulaski, Tybee Island and Wormsloe Plantation.
The city was given to President Lincoln as a Christmas present by General Sherman in exchange for not burning it during Christmas 1864 so Savannah is full of undestroyed past everywhere you look and in downtown, homeowners and businesses must follow strict guidelines to maintain the historic aesthetic of the city.
2. A great theater
A great theater will help make your pageant pop without much work on your part.
You want families to be able to see their girls from anywhere in the audience and the judges to have a good view of the stage as well.
You also want to make sure that lighting and sound will be handled in as professional of a manner as possible and can be afforded on your director budget, as this can help make your pageant even more visually appealing and provide for great photos from your photographer.
This year, Miss All-Star United States will take place at the historic Savannah Theatre, which is the oldest operating theater in the nation. It opened December 4th, 1818, and walking in will take you back in time. The theater sits in Chippewa Square, which was featured in the movie Forrest Gump. His famous bench is no longer there, as it was a movie prop, but you can still take a photo as if it were.
3. A wonderful host hotel
An excellent hotel is a must! Taxis and rental cars are expensive, so if your hotel offers a shuttle to and from their airport or around town, this could really help your contestants when it comes to planning how to get to and from the hotel or around the city for shopping and dining.
Room service is also expensive, and while you’ve hopefully picked a site with a phenomenal array of restaurants surrounding it, having the ability to eat as part of their pageant package is pivotal to helping your contestants stick to their budget.
In-room refrigerators seem to be something of the hotel past these days, but you’ll help your pageant contestants keep snacks and drinks cold and fresh during their stay if the rooms include refrigerators. They will also be able to bring food to help stay on pageant diets and budgets.
A gym and pool on site will help keep family members occupied and give contestants something to do during downtime. Plus, dipping your feet in a cool pool after a long day in heels is super relaxing. Just watch your spray tan. (Read: 3 Steps to Keeping Your Tan Pageant Perfect This Summer)
Miss All-Star United States contestants will be staying at the Holiday Inn Express on Bay Street, right in the middle of Savannah’s Historic District, and it checks all of the boxes above.
4. A variety of restaurants and shops
Pageant days are long and come with crazy schedules. Early mornings and late nights mean girls need to be able to grab something to eat whenever they can. Having restaurants within walking distance means your girls can eat and be seen in the city throughout the day.
It also means that if they travel to the pageant, they won’t have to rely on a car to be able to get food.
If the hotel offers breakfast, you can be sure your girls will fuel up for the day and they’ll be able to eat without taking too much time away from getting ready for the day’s events.
Be sure to consider having a store in or near the hotel for any necessities that may come up. Pain medicine, shoe pads, feminine hygiene products and hosiery, and anything else that may have been forgotten, including needed prescriptions. Having a store in walking distances means a quick run to get something is no big deal if you are without a car. (Read: Packing for a National Pageant)
I once had a pageant with a Target across the street, which saved me as I needed a steamer, nail polish and something to keep my heels from being too slick on the stage.
Miss All-Star United States contestants will be surrounded by restaurants and shops, and you can even get a historic photo done down on River Street. Be sure to check out the hotel lobby for brochures on the sights and sounds around Savannah.
5. Family-friendly events for everyone
You don’t want to abandon the families during pageant week, and while you certainly want to give your girls time to bond as sister queens, it is also fun for pageant moms and dads and anyone else along for the ride to get involved.
It is also a great way to let the families know that you appreciate their support for your organization. They support their girls all year in the background, so getting them involved and showing your appreciation for them goes a long way for establishing a following for your pageant.
As a bonus, you’ll be sure to have a lot of photos to use and promote your pageant with.
Miss All-Star United States offers a variety of events at nationals, including honey tasting, a scavenger hunt, and a visit to Leopold’s Famous Ice Cream where Miss All-Star United States has its own flavor!
Miss All-Star United States 2017
Think Savannah is a place you’d like to visit and want to compete in a pageant while you’re at it? Miss All-Star United States is looking for contestants!
Nationals will be held July 26-29, 2017. Applications are due by June 15, 2017.
Age Divisions Include:
Mrs. All-Star United States (age 21 and over, married)
Ms. All-Star United States (age 25 and over, unmarried and can have children)
Miss All-Star United States (age 19-29, not married)
Miss Teen All-Star United States (age 14-18, not married)
Junior Miss All-Star United States (age 11-13)
Pre-Teen Miss All-Star United States (age 8-10)
Little Miss All-Star United States (age 5-7)
All age divisions 14 and up compete in personal interview, swimsuit and evening gown with each area accounting for one third of the score. The top 10 participate in onstage question, swimsuit and evening gown. The top five will answer a final question.
Younger divisions for those ages 5-13 compete in beauty and panel interview with multiple optionals available, including Photogenic (black and white and color categories), All-Star Fun Fashion Wear and Community Service. (Read: What You need to Know to Increase Your Pageant Fun Fashion Score)
While it may seem convenient for you to host your pageant near your home, consider if where you live is really beneficial to the brand and mission of your pageant. If you want to show off your titleholders’ hard work, you need to be sure to host your pageant in a city where you can get them out in the community and in front of citizens and local media to get them and the pageant name out there.
Make sure to consider all of the above in addition to considering your budget and the safety of area for your contestants to be able to be out in the community.
Savannah, and the south in general, is known for its hospitality and friendliness to complete strangers, making it the perfect place for people from near or far to come together and get to know each other.
“Pageantry began in the south and they have rolled out the red carpet for the All-Star United States Pageant Organization,” said Tammy Johns, director of Miss All-Star United States.
Good luck choosing your pageant destination!