How to start Your Own Pageant

by Dr. Debra Maddox – as seen in our Fall / Winter 2012 issue

Tips:  How to Build Your Own Pageant
System – Part One: The Groundwork

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a
director of you own successful pageant system?
Most every successful venture begins with a dream which is placed into
action and becomes a reality.  Pageantry
is no different, and starting up your own system is the dream of many as
pageantry takes hold worldwide.  There
are many things to consider from the very start.  This series will help you go through the
steps—from dream to reality—and aid you, in an organized way, to develop,
create, and produce your own pageant system. Part One is an overview of what we
will discuss in this series as well as basic steps to get you well on your way
to success.  Plan to come back with each
issue of the magazine to build your dream step by step.

Geographic  Considerations.   You have a vision of what kind of system you
want to develop.  There are several types
of pageant systems today ranging from local to state to national levels.  Pageants usually begin at the local level and
progress with a following toward including a state pageant, which is fed from
the winners of the local system, into a national pageant, which is fed through
the winners of the state system.  Thus,
the pageant system may start out small at first and develop its following
through prior contestants and word-of-mouth even without heavy formal
advertising.  We will cover advertising
in another part of this series.

Establishing the Type of Pageant
.  Once you decide upon the geographic
level of your pageant (local or state) you will want to determine which type of
pageant you want to create.  There are
several types of pageants ranging from natural to low glitz, medium glitz, or
full glitz.  It is very important to
determine this ahead of time because the forms you create and the rules you
establish will be determined by the type of pageant you will be holding.  We will discuss each type of pageant in
another part of this series.  The type of
pageant will determine the type of judges you require, the type of awards you
purchase, the forms you create and the rules you establish for wardrobe, hair,
makeup and participation, as well as the age levels you want to have

Setting the Type of Activities
You Will Offer for Participation
.  You
must also decide what activities/extra requirements you will place in your
pageant.  Questions to think about and
address consist of the following:

  1.  Will you include a talent portion in your
    pageant? (If so, this will create other issues to be addressed such as sound
    systems, stage size, etc.—which we will discuss in another part of this series.)
  2. What type of stage “walk” or
    formation will you use for your contestants?
  3. What type beauty dress/attire will
    you require?
  4. Will you include other competition
    categories such as casual wear, swim wear, or theme wear?
  5. Will you include a photogenic
    competition? If so, will it be natural or glitz photos?
  6. Will you require titleholders to
    compete in the next level of competition, such as winning a local requires
    competing at the state and/or national level?
  7. Will you require participants to
    represent their titles at other functions after your pageant is held?

Securing the Venue.  Before you can do
anything concrete towards establishing the actual pageant competition itself,
you will need a venue, or place to hold your pageant with an established date
and time.  You will need to establish a
couple of dates along with the timeframe of your pageant before you begin to
contact local venue sites.  Being flexible
is important, especially if you are looking toward holding your pageant within
the next 3-4 months.  Many places book up
to a year in advance.   Some venues
require deposits up front as well as insurance bonding.  These are things we will talk about in
another part of this series.  Other
things to think about when selecting a venue are the following:

  1. Size of audience to be in attendance
    for seating
  2. Sound equipment, if needed
  3. Parking
  4. Dressing rooms for participants
  5. Areas for vendors to set up
    (hair/makeup, etc.)
  6. Food and/or food vendors, if food is
    to be sold

Developing the Application Form.
After you decide upon the type of pageant you will hold, secure your
venue with date and time, then you will want to start developing your
application form.  We will discuss in
specific different types of forms as we go through this series.  Application forms will include basically
everything a participant needs to know in order to compete successfully; therefore,
the application form and application process is vital to the success of your
pageant, and you will want to take a fair amount of time to think through what
to include outside the basic applicant identification information.

Establishing Pageant
Participation Fees
.  Pageant
participation fees will need to be established as these are a part of the
form.  If you create a website, you may
want to establish an account via an online payment system (such as PayPal or
WePay) in order to collect funds easily.
It is best to keep your participation fees at the norm for your
area.  Going to pageants or researching
other pageants in your area and what basic fees are normal for your own
geographic area is very important to being able to draw a good number of
participants in order to break even.
Once you have decided upon a basic entry fee, you may want to consider
other fees based upon what activities you have included in your pageant.  All of this should be addressed on your
application form clearly.  Other fees may

  1.  Registration/handling/processing fee (to cover
    those fees charged you by your fee collection service)
  2. Fees for photogenic competition, how
    many photos you will accept, and what extra fees you will charge for extra
  3. Talent participation fee (to cover
    the production company who manages the music, etc.)
  4. Casual wear, swim wear, theme wear
    fee, if you choose to make these optional to enter and not included in the
    basic entry fee
  5. Discounts for family siblings—very
    important as many times a family may have more than one child entering
  6. Ad fees for program book (if you
    choose to create one)
  7. Door entry fee schedule—will you give
    free entry to parents?, etc.
  8. Extra fees such as Viewer’s Choice
    where the pageant attendees can pay money to vote for their favorite

Getting the Word Out.  Once you have this
basic information in place and the application form is created, you will want
to think about how you are going to spread the word about your system and get
your first pageant off the ground.  There
are many ways to do this today that make it so much easier than in the
past.  You may want to place your
application form online in a website you create or on a social media event page
(such as on Facebook) for easy download and to reach a greater population of
people.  You will also want to have
printed copies available at local civic organizations and other functions to
get the word out.  Newspapers and local
magazines, TV stations, and radio shows are a great way to spread the word.  Community bulletin boards and local civic
organizations may also have electronic delivery systems that you can use to
share your information.  Visiting local
colleges/universities, vocational-technical schools, high schools, elementary
and middle schools, or day care centers may also be mediums through which you
can place flyers.


This should have you well on your way to getting your pageant
system off the ground successfully.  Our
next part in this series will deal with the application form in specific and
what information you will want to include in your participant package so that
your pageant rules are clearly established ahead of time.

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