I also had a lot on my mind personally. My Nanny White passed away the week before the pageant. It was the toughest thing I ever had to do. All I really wanted to do was cry the whole weekend instead of compete. But I had already made the commitment and my picture was in the program book.
I drove the 2 1/2 hours from Richmond to Vinton right outside the Roanoke area. The Vinton Dogwood Festival is a big annual event that attracts many people from all over the metropolitan Roanoke area. The festivities include a craft fair, music, car shows, baseball games, along with a parade and reception which the contestants and Miss Vinton Dogwood Festival are part of. We are lucky as contestants because we get to stay with host families in the town. After pairing up with our hosts and getting settled in on Friday, we get our schedule and have our dress rehearsal. My host family was terrific and told me they had hosted the winner in the past. I felt lucky! They were wonderful!
I was nervous because another contestant had made Top 10 at Miss Virginia the year before. I focused on me and tried not to let it get me down or throw me. You know the old saying, "Different judges, different day!" The news was a big topic and the L.A. riots were happening during this time. As I interviewed that afternoon, I felt a complete calmness and clarity. I felt like I had an "angel" with me all weekend. They asked me about the riots and I talked about some things Martin Luther King, Jr. had said during the 60's riots. People fail to see that what they are ruining is their own community and how no good will ever come of it. I was asked quite a few other tough questions as well, but felt like I handled them. After that phase of competition was over, we were all relieved and ready to have fun. We moved to the Vinton War Memorial building for the afternoon reception. First we were introduced to everyone and then we had wonderful lunch. Afterwards, we moved on to line up for the parade. Once the parade was over, we rehearsed and then went back to our families to ready ourselves for the show.
That evening, I felt so good about the opening number. It was a tough dance but we did great. I felt on top of the world. The first phase of competition was swimsuit. I had
borrowed a white "tuxedo" style swimsuit from my friend, Stephania Cash. (She had competed with me at Miss Virginia in 1991 and we were both trying to get back to Miss Virginia.)
When I walked out on stage as soon as I started to do my turn, my heel buckled! By talent competition, all I could do was sing from the heart. I meant every word I sang and it
was very hard for me to sing. My song was an old Nat "King" Cole song, remade by Natalie Cole, entitled, "Smile." As you read the lyrics to this song, I think you will understand
a little of the agony I was going through. The loss of my Nanny White was overwhelming and she was my first Grandparent to pass away. Smile though your heart is aching. Smile even
though it's breaking. Although a tear may be ever so near. If you smile through your fear and sorrow. Smile and maybe tomorrow. You'll see the sun come shining through, for you.
Well, you get the idea of how tough it was. Once the talent was over, it was on to evening gown and on-stage question. Even when I've felt like I didn't do as well in interview (which
wasn't the case here) I've always been able to pull through and answer pretty well on stage. I guess it's the broadcaster in me! I nailed my question and the rest was up to a higher
By the end of the night, I was blessed enough to win the swimsuit award and talent award on stage. I later found out, that once again, I had swept the pageant and won every category. But, as always, you never know what will happen so I wasn't sure I'd won. Then they call 2nd Runner-Up, Shana Huff. Then 1st Runner-Up, Lee Anne Schiller. And then, the big moment...the new Miss Vinton Dogwood Festival is...Kimberly Joyce White! I was so happy that, of course, I cried all over the place again!