Krystle Siarza: Special to PNT
Madison Belcher, 5, of Dora was a stranger to the pageant life until this weekend when she was crowned Miss New Mexico American Coed Princess, Friday in Albuquerque.
Kalila Pack, 8, of Clovis finished third in the Sweetheart division.
Madison, a student at Elida Elementary, didn’t join the pageant for the modeling and talent competitions; she just wanted to play her piano.
“I’m still waiting for my feet to reach the pedals,” said Madison during a pageant introduction on stage.
“She just said, ‘Mommy, I just want to play,’” Elizabeth Belcher, Madison’s mom said.
Rather than intense preparation, it only took two months for Madison’s first pageant competition.
“We have no experience with pageants,” Elizabeth Belcher, said. “She enjoys playing the piano, and we took any avenue for her to play.”
Madison had her chance to play “Beauty and the Beast” in front of an audience of 200 during Friday’s finale, with two step stools bracing her feet.
She also won the optional talent competition in the Sweetheart division.
“We’ve tried to get her into soccer, sports, or ballet, to develop other interests,” Elizabeth Belcher said. “At a track meet, she told me, ‘I don’t like to run, I like to play.’”
Crowned with the title of Princess on Friday, Madison has the chance to compete at the national competition in Florida, and represent the pageant during the New Mexico State Fair.
“One thing she wanted to do was to ride the parade,” Elizabeth Belcher said.
As for Kalila, a student at Clovis Christian School, this was an outlet to do something different outside of Clovis.
Learning about the pageant from The Machmeter, Cannon Air Force Base’s newspaper, Kalila wanted to make memories.
“I wanted to meet new friends,” said Kalila.
Kalila graced the stage with a pink polka-dotted outfit, and a cyan colored dress for the evening gown competition.
“She’s a little diva,” said Elizabeth Pack, Kalila’s mom. She rushed in between competitions, often urging for her next outfit from her mom.
Based on her performance during her interview and evening gown competition, she won third place in her age division.
This year’s finale in Albuquerque, as opposed to previous years in Las Cruces, offered a much larger stage and doubled the participation, said pageant director Michele Skroch.
This New Mexico competition feeds into the American Coed Pageant competition, which has various divisions for girls ages 3 to 21.
Skroch said girls are only judged on their performance during the interview and evening gown, while there are optional competitions, including talent, cheer, and speech events.
Unlike many pageants, the Co-Ed pageant system restricts contestants’ use of make-up.
Contestants must look “suggestive to their age,” Skroch said. “If they wear tons of make-up, then that’s not them.”