The Miss Alameda County pageant is back after a 20-year-or-so hiatus. Thirteen young women from all over the county--including three from Pleasanton--will compete at 7 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Amador Theater, 1155 Santa Rita Road, for the chance to advance to the state competition.
The show will include dance numbers and professional and "celebrity" judges, including Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart. Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty was invited to be a judge, but will be unable to because of a scheduling conflict.
Part of the Miss America organization, the pageant judges the contestants on artistic expression (talent, worth 35 percent), presentation and community achievement (interview, worth 25 percent), presence and poise (evening wear, 20 percent), lifestyle and fitness (swimsuit, 15 percent) and on-stage questioning (worth 5 percent).
Event organizers Scott Walsh and Barbara Davies Walsh are still seeking donations to be given as scholarships for the contestants. Pageants typically reward only the winner and runner up, but each Miss Alameda County contestant will receive scholarship money.
Davies Walsh wanted to bring the pageant back after a long hiatus because of her positive experiences competing in pageants. Walsh retired early from the Livermore-Pleasanton Police Department after an injury. When it came to choosing how he wanted to spend his retirement, he had two goals: to work alongside his wife and to help in the community.
The couple is dedicated to helping the 13 young ladies earn money for scholarships and enjoy the experience. They drive to Hayward and back to help one contestant attend activities, Davies Walsh offered her evening wear to contestants unable to buy their own, and she even wore the crown on a trip to the dentist to encourage him to donate money.
Much of the feedback the couple has received has been positive, but there have been some complaints over the swimsuit portion of the competition.
Davis Walsh said the swimsuit part of the show lasts a mere two minutes and 17 seconds--as it is timed to music--and counts for a small percentage of the total. Contestants also choose their own swimsuit. She added that Miss America is separate from the Donald Trump-owned pageants, which weigh physical appearance more highly in judging.
"People maligning the pageant never met me or the girls," she said. "They should come and see the show. I think it would change their minds."
A recent reality TV show, "Miss America Reality Check," sought to modernize the competition. The couple agreed that the organization has tried to be more relevant for today, but don't think a reality-show like competition will happen again.
"It pitted them against each other," Davies Walsh said. "They tried to make drama."
She said that she doesn't think the pageant is outdated because the ideals it represents for the young women are timeless.
Tickets are $10-$15 in advance, or $14-$20 at the door. Children under 10 are free. For tickets or to inquire about donations, call Walsh at 846-6277.