As the three days of preliminaries came to a close Thursday night at Township Auditorium, several of the Miss South Carolina contestants said they were excited, nervous and a bit nostalgic knowing that the pageant was nearing an end.
They talked about the friendships they had made. They are an eclectic group, among them middle school math teacher Valerie Bostick, television news reporter Emma Wakeman, and sheriff’s deputy Carli Drayton.
As with the previous nights, the contestants were split into small groups to showcase their talents, many pianists and dancers performed, while other contestants announced their social platforms should they win.
The last preliminary award for talent went to Miss Lander University Kara Love, who performed En Pointe to Hoedown from Rodeo. Love also won rookie talent for having the highest score in her first year.
Evening gown went to Miss Clemson Anna Newton, who also won the talent award Tuesday night. Newton selected as her platform connecting first responders with community members to learn their needs.
In the teen competition, Clarendon teen Nicole Herrera won for her singing talent and Clemson teen Reilly Ray won for evening gown. The rookie talent award went to Inman teen Emma Cook, who performed a tap dance.
On Friday Miss South Carolina Teen will be crowned and Miss South Carolina on Saturday. Both shows begin at 8 p.m.
The winners of previous nights in the MIss South Carolina competition were evening gown/social platform Miss Midlands Emily Wakeman, who wants to promote teen mental health through overcoming stigmas, and Miss Greater Greer Jada Samuel, who wants to work on raising young people’s self-esteem.
Wakeman said every school should have a mental health counselor.
Samuel said, “Everybody has a purpose and they need to know that,” .
Miss Sparkle City C.J. McDermott won the talent award on Wednesday.
In the Miss South Carolina Teen competition, previous night evening gown winners were Miss Georgetown County Teen Hannah Young and Miss Dorchester County Teen Muskaan Makkar.
In the teen talent competitions, previous winners were Miss Spartanburg Teen Messiah Moring and Miss Capital City Dabria Aguilar.
Each winner accumulates points toward being named a finalist. Fifteen will be chosen for the final night competition and one will be selected by people who voted on the Miss South Carolina website. The voting closed Thursday night.
In all, 41 women are competing for the title of Miss South Carolina and 35 for Miss South Carolina Teen.
Miss South Carolina 2021 will earn a $60,000 scholarship, the highest of any state pageant, Margie Watkins, the pageant media committee chair, said. Organizers have raised $187,000 that will go to the academic scholarships for contestants. Each Miss South Carolina participant gets at least $2,000.
In the usual preliminary night banter with Miss South Carolina 2019 Morgan Nicole and Miss South Carolina Teen 2019 Kellan Fenegan, Daja Davidson, Miss South Carolina 2015 and co-host of the pageant, asked them to tell something about themselves that no one else knows. Nicole said she had already ordered her after-show meal for Saturday - a big juicy hamburger and fries dipped in Duke’s mayonnaise.
Fenegan said olives were her favorite food and she liked to eat them with chocolate milk. That received a resounding no from Davidson and fellow host Daniel Sechtin, a reporter/anchor at WHAS11 in Louisville, Kentucky.