The Pros and Cons of Being an At-Large Pageant Contestant

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The highs and lows of being an at-large pageant contestant

Did you know that you can become a beauty queen without even competing? Well that is exactly what happens when you enter a pageant as an “at-large” contestant. In this series you will discover what it means to be an at-large contestant, discover the ups and downs as well as find out what

What is an at-large pageant contestant?

An at-large pageant contestant is someone who did not go through a preliminary competition to receive her title. Instead, she is selected after an application process that typically includes completion of an information sheet, photograph submission, and either a Skype or telephone interview with the Director/Organizer of the pageant.

If there are no other candidates, the process could take as little as a day. All things considered equal, title holders will be chosen on a first come first serve basis. Depending on the system, you can represent your city, state or region.

The same eligibility requirements apply for at-large contestants. Typical requirements include

  • Natural born female: Have your birth certificate ready and available to send to the pageant organizers if needed. If you cannot locate it, contact your local Department of Health and their Vital Records department.
  • Age: A driver’s license or birth certificate should be adequate proof. Pay special attention to this section. Pageant systems typically ask how old you will be at the time of the National pageant.
  • Residency: If you do not live in the city, state or region you are applying, you may be ok if you attend school or work in the area but read the fine print to be sure!
  • Nationals: Be sure you are available to compete at the National competition. If not, you may have to surrender your title and return your crown and banner.

As a general tip—keep copies of all documents and correspondence between you and the committee, especially when money is involved. If there is any question about missing a deadline or paying a portion of your fees, you will have support for it.

Coming up next, the advantages and disadvantages of being at at-large pageant contestant.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Being an At-Large Pageant Contestant

There are a number of reasons to enter a pageant as an at-large contestant:

  1. You’ve won a title and saved the energy it takes to actually compete, other than the application fee you’ve incurred. But as you will find when we discuss the disadvantages of being an at-large contestant, you will have to invest a significant amount of time after you’ve received your title.
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  3. Overnight celebrity! This is a great option for someone who would like to use their title to give power to a message or cause they are trying to promote within the community. Organizations are always looking to add a little pizzazz at events to boost attendance and generate positive public relations.
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  5. A title is a title and yours will carry the same amount of clout as someone who won theirs at a local competition—your crown and banner will be exact. You are all ambassadors of the system and serve as role models within your communities.

Great, huh? But as the title of this series suggests, there are some down sides to being an at-large pageant contestant as well:

  1. You didn’t compete to win your title—this is a fact. So unless you’ve competed in a pageant before, the first time you step foot on the National stage will be the first time you set foot on any stage. Ask yourself if that is something you are willing to experience.
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  3. Little to no support from a local pageant director because frankly, you don’t have one. When you win through the traditional process, you will also have the benefit of having a local director who will advise you throughout the year, provide opportunities to volunteer or appear at events in the area and most importantly prep you for the next level of competition.
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  5. Fees, fees and more fees! In addition to having a pageant director, winning in a local program also comes with a prize package in addition to your crown and banner. This prize package will usually include the funds to pay for your entry fee for the next round of competition. As an at-large contestant, you will not only be responsible for another entry fee, but travel and lodging costs associated with the national competition.

These are all things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not you want to be an at-large pageant contestant. If you are a self-starter and motivated to represent your system in the best way possible, this may be the route you want to take.