If Abigail McNeill can pull it off, she will crown her successor this year.
McNeill, who was crowned Miss Tooele County nearly a year ago, is trying to bring back the Tooele County Scholarship Pageant after it was axed by the county commission during recent budget cuts.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved pageantry and wanted to be part of it,” she said. “The pageant is about education. Scholarships like the one I received from Miss Tooele County, paid for my college education. I couldn’t let that opportunity end for other young women, especially after it helped me so much.”
McNeill talked with county commissioners and received their permission to continue the pageant as a county activity, but the county will not provide any financial support.
“I understand the commissioners position that the pageant should not be funded by taxpayers,” she said. “Most county pageants are privately funded.”
To save the Miss Tooele County Pageant, McNeill launched a fund raising effort last week to generate $3,000 for scholarship money: $1,750 for Miss Tooele County, $750 for the first attendant, and $500 for the second attendant.
Anything over the $3,000 will help with pageant expenses, which McNeill hopes to minimize through the use of volunteers and donations of services.
All contributions will be deposited with Tooele County and will go through its accounting system, she said.
“I know in the past the pageant did not draw a lot of sponsors,” said McNeill. “But this year, without the county’s support, we need sponsors. I know we have a lot of businesses in our community that will respond and help us keep this important program.”
Around a dozen young women annually vie for the Miss Tooele County title, which includes the scholarship and the responsibility of representing the county at a variety of events for one year.
Ordinarily held at the end of July, the pageant will be postponed until mid-August to give McNeill more time to raise money and organize the event.
The pageant competition consists of an application, a private interview with judges followed by an on-stage question and answer session. The competition also includes a talent and evening wear on-stage show to help gauge the poise and public speaking skills of the candidates.
Several young women who want to enter the Miss Tooele County Pageant have already contacted McNeill. She refuses to consider the possibility that she might not raise enough money and other donations to continue the event.
“I feel it is my responsibility to save this pageant and present this opportunity to others,” she said. “Through generous monetary donations, supporters can provide scholarship money and lay the stepping stones for women leaders of the future.”
McNeill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.