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Pageant requires preparation

August 17, 1998

Miss WV'sBy KERRY LYNN FRALEY / Staff Writer

photo: MIKE CRUPI / staff photographer [enalrge]




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - West Virginia may not be a powerhouse state - like Texas or Alabama- when it comes to donors bankrolling its Miss America contestant to help wow the judges.

But you don't need expensive clothes or an elaborate send-off party to win the coveted crown, claims Martinsburg resident and former Miss West Virginia Candy Reid.

That's something Reid said she stresses in helping Miss West Virginias prepare for the Miss America pageant, which can be intimidating to someone without the backing of Miss Texas or Miss Alabama.

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"It's what's on the inside of her that counts," said Reid, 41, referring to her latest pageant protege, Amy Townsend, who just finished a week as Reid's house guest.

It has become a tradition for Reid, Miss West Virginia in 1981 and the state's pageant producer since 1988, to invite the reigning Miss West Virginia for a week of intensive practice and tips before the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City, N.J.

"I think you need to know when you get there what to expect," said Reid, who said she was lucky to have several people help her prepare for her shot at the Miss America title.

The final day of the Miss America pageant isn't until Sept. 19.

But the event starts weeks earlier for Townsend and the other state representatives, who will leave on Sept. 3 for pageant-related activities in Orlando, Fla., then proceed to Atlantic City for rehearsal and preliminary competition, Reid said.

Spending the past week with the one-time Miss America contestant has been a great help, said Townsend, 23, a graduate student at West Virginia University.

"She tells me things no one else can tell me because she's been there," she said.

One of the things they did was analyzing a tape of Townsend's interview from the state pageant, Reid said.

There was a lot of one-on-one interviewing, with Reid asking questions the judges might ask, and mock interviews by various community members.

They also worked on the talent portion of the competition, for which Townsend will sing "Hopelessly Devoted to You" from "Grease," Reid said.

Townsend competed once for the Miss Montana title and once for the Miss West Virginia title before her second time at the Miss West Virginia Scholarship Pageant won her a chance at the Miss America title, she said.

She didn't compete in a pageant until age 17, when a friend asked her to help out by competing in a Miss Montana preliminary pageant that didn't have enough contestants, said Townsend, who said she was shocked to win.

After the Miss Montana pageant, she didn't compete again until she moved to Morgantown, W.Va., and made her first run for the Miss West Virginia title.

Lacking the years on the pageant circuit that many of her fellow Miss America contestants have, Townsend said she really appreciated Reid sharing her firsthand experience and helping her practice to improve any weak areas before the competition.

"I like to be in control. I wasn't feeling as in control or as confident as I'm feeling now," she said.

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