Wow! It was my first week on the job, and I have already driven almost 900 miles! I am off and running on my year of service as Miss Minnesota!
On Thursday, I made my first official appearance at the Special Olympics in St. Paul. Miss Frazee Emily Kallis and I were special guests in the autograph tent, along with some Lino Lakes royalty, an Olympic skier, and the Vikings cheerleaders. I was also invited to perform some musical selections at the event. I was so happy that this was my first appearance as Miss Minnesota; Special Olympics is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart because of how connected it is to my platform work. It is such a wonderful organization, providing opportunities for people with disabilities to experience success. Thank you to Alyssa Siech, our Special Olympics contact, for including the Miss Minnesota Organization in this event!
On Friday, I headed up to Perham, MN for their annual Turtlefest parade. I was invited to the stage to introduce myself and take photos before the parade. The kids I met were ADORABLE! A woman asked me to hold her newborn baby in one of the photos. I was calm then, but now every time I look at the photo, my heart starts racing a bit! I keep thinking, "Oh my goodness! Don't drop her!" I also met a man who is 102 years old! He needs to share his secret to living a long and healthy life! Following the big event, the parade committee treated me to a delicious dinner at Mulligan's and a wonderful hotel room at Crossings Inns & Suites. Thank you for treating me so well during my time in Perham!
The next day, I headed up to Brainerd for the Miss Brainerd Lakes and Miss Baxter pageants. Congratulations to the new additions to our sisterhood, Miss Brainerd Lakes Rebecca Yeh and Miss Baxter Haley Van Steenwyk. Also congratulations to Mary Peterson on an incredible year of service! It was great to reunite with the ladies I competed with last week at Miss Minnesota. We had a blast catching up at Applebee's following that night's pageant! We gorged ourselves on chicken wings and spinach artichoke dip! Also, thank you so much to Miss Twin Cities Lauren Johnson and her family for giving me a place to stay that night!
Finally, on Sunday, I headed up to Middle River way way up by the Canadian border to support the ladies vying for the title of Miss Marshall County. Congratulations to Katie Peterson, the new Miss Marshall County! You will represent your community well! Also congratulations to Moriah Nelson on a successful year of service!
Thank you to both the Brainerd Lakes/Baxter and Marshall County local committees for including me in your programs! I had such a great time. It has been wonderful spending my first week as Miss Minnesota exploring our great state!
It has been three days since I was crowned Miss Minnesota, and it has yet to completely sink in. Life has been hopping since last Saturday's crowning! My Facebook, email, and phone have been on fire with congratulatory messages and interview requests. During my first interview with a radio station in Mankato, I accidentally called myself "Miss Mansota," which tells you how much my new title has sunk in! I still can't believe I am no longer Miss Mankato, but I am so excited for the opportunity to represent the entire state program this year!
To the local titleholders with whom I spent the last week: THANK YOU! I am so honored to have shared the stage with such an incredible group of young women! I have no idea how the judges chose me out of all those amazing women, but I am so thankful for the opportunity. Everyone agreed that all 21 contestants were winners; I am honored to have been chosen to represent them this year.
The state board also deserves a huge thank you for everything they have done to make the Miss Minnesota program a success. They dedicate hours upon hours of their time (without pay) to host a fun-filled pageant week and to produce an excellent show at Eden Prairie High School. And I know the contestants did not get much sleep during pageant week, but I am certain that the board members got even less! The Miss Minnesota Organization has done so much for my personal growth and development, and I am so thankful to the state board and local committees for helping this program continue to thrive.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me on my journey to Miss Minnesota. Your words of encouragement and prayers meant the world to me during this whole process! I am so honored and privileged to hold the title of Miss Minnesota 2011. I have big plans for this year, and I hope you will keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
Miss Minnesota 2011 (<-- That's exciting!)
Wow! Everything is so surreal! It was a wonderful day. We ate delicious pancakes and eggs at IHOP. Thank you to Frank the manager for being such a wonderful host! We raised over $2,000 at the Miss Minnesota Golf Tournament fund raiser at Valleywood Golf Course in Apple Valley. Tonight I competed in swim suit and evening gown. I was so honored (and completely shocked!) to be named preliminary swim suit winner! I also won the Miss America Community Service award, which meant the world to me. The whole reason I am involved in this program is because of my passion for community service, particularly to help children with disabilities. I am so thankful to the judges for naming me swimsuit winner and to Miss America for recognizing my dedication to community service. Congratulations to my beautiful, talented friend Aja Majkrzak for winning Night Two preliminary talent! Also congrats to the smartypants Meghan Kuznia for winning the Miss America Academic Award! Tomorrow is the big night! I feel at peace. This whole week, I have been praying to God to simply help me do my best and I feel that I have done that so far. I would love the opportunity to be Miss Minnesota this year, but I know that any one of these young women will do the job justice. Keep us in your prayers tomorrow. Thank you!
First day of competition! My interview was the very first one, starting at 9:30am. It went very well! I felt the judges really got to know me, and I was grateful to have the chance to talk about my personal experience with the Miss America Organization and my platform. Tonight, I competed in talent and on-stage question. I am so honored to have been named the preliminary talent winner! I performed Nessun Dorma from Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot! Thank you judges! Congratulations to Sammi Philippi for winning the night one preliminary swimsuit award! Everyone looked so beautiful tonight! I am so thankful to be a part of such an exceptional group of young women!
Today we ate breakfast at the Original Pancake House, had a long day of rehearsal at Eden Prairie High School Performing Arts Center, and a fun evening of bowling at Brunswick Lanes! I had so much fun bowling with Miss Brainerd Lakes Mary Petersen and Miss Winona Erin Cochran. Unfortunately, we were disqualified from the Miss Minnesota bowling competition because we opted for kiddie bumpers, but we still received a pity gift of an adorable crown Christmas ornament! For those of you who don't know me, I am a TERRIBLE bowler! Thank goodness I am not judged on my bowling skills for Miss Minnesota because I wouldn't have a chance! I am so excited to compete in interview, talent and on-stage question tomorrow! Keep me in your prayers!
It was a big day! We went to the zoo and we ate at the best restaurant in the world, Buca di Beppo! We took lots of great pictures with some very excited kids. We ate my favorite apple walnut salad and delicious chocolate cake, cheesecake, apple crisp, and tiramisu! Enjoy the pictures!
Today was the day I had been looking forward to the most (with the exception of the competition nights of course!). This morning Miss Minnesota Kathryn Knuttila and the 21 contestants vying for her title visited Gillette Children's Hospital, Minnesota's official Children's Miracle Network hospital, to decorate cookies and visit with patients. It was incredible to see the children impacted by our fund raising. Thank you so much to Becky, our Gillette liaison, for coordinating this visit for us and for feeding us delicious food from Panera.
We also toured the state capitol today! It was great to see the place where my uncle Steve Dille served as a senator for so many years. Also, THANK YOU to Barb Gehlen for arranging a 15 minute meeting with Governor Mark Dayton. It was an incredible opportunity. Also note how beautiful the capitol is thanks to Vetter Stone of Mankato, who donated some beautiful stone pieces for the Miss Minnesota silent auction!
Finally, we took some sponsor photographs in St. Louis Park. We had some lovely downtime, which we spent at Starbucks. It was a great opportunity to get to know each other!
This is where Miss Minnesota week starts to get fun! Today we woke up bright and early to head to Glitz at the Mall of America. The experience was every girl's dream! We each sported two beautiful Glitz dresses in a fashion show. Needless to say, we had a ton of fun! Thank you Glitz for sponsoring the Miss Minnesota program and letting us wear your fabulous gowns and cocktails!
After our Glitz modeling debut, we headed to eat at Crave in our fabulous Rodney Alfred Simonson opening number dresses. The food at Crave was DELICIOUS, and the staff was so kind to us! Thank you so much for feeding us today!
After lunch, we actually had some downtime! I took a short nap to "rejuve" before getting ready for my Quality of Life interview. I am so thankful for being one of the 6 finalists chosen for this honor, along with Allison Lordboch, Bethany Beniek, Tiffany Peterson, Meghan Kuznia, and Aja Majkrzak. I have no idea who is going to win. Allison and I agreed that everyone is outstanding and just as deserving of the Quality of Life Award. Thank you to the Tracie Joy McBride Scholarship Foundation for giving us this opportunity.
Later in the evening, we enjoyed some more delicious food at Santorini. The pita with humus was to die for! Thank you so much to Tony and John, the owners of Santorini, for hosting us and feeding 21 hungry Miss Minnesota contestants (we eat more than you think!). The food was absolutely amazing and the service was even better! Thank you for being such a dedicated sponsor for so many years!
Finally, we ended the day with some hard core dance rehearsal. I am so excited for the show we are going to put on this year. We have a few surprises in store so make sure you have your tickets! David Shepardson is so creative and talented. I am so thankful for the time and energy he puts into making this production incredible. He and the rest of the board are outstanding and deserving of recognition for their hard work, for which they do not get paid! They are the reason our program continues to thrive!
It's finally here! Miss Minnesota week! I was up until 3am last night because I was too excited to sleep, AND because I was roaming my house making sure I wouldn't forget to pack anything! I spent the entire day in the Twin Cities area doing some last minute shopping with my mom before finally checking into the Crowne Plaza at 6:45pm. I was so happy to have that time to spend with my mom. The night was pretty low key. We turned in our silent auction items; thank you so much to Vetter Stone of Mankato for donating the beautiful stone rose, nativities, and eagle! The contestants and committee had a brief meeting to dicuss the plans for the following day, then we keyed into our crafty sides to create some colorful, sparkling door decorations for our hotel rooms. I am so excited to room with the beautiful Kimberly Jacobson, Miss North Shore! What a sweetheart! We are going to have a great week together!
I am so excited to announce that I have been selected as a finalist for the Quality of Life Award for my dedication to my platform, Autism Awareness: The Missing Piece. Thank you so much to the Tracie Joy McBride Scholarship Foundation for this opportunity! Congratulations to the other 5 finalists, Miss North Metro Bethany Beniek, Miss Thief River Falls Meghan Kuznia, Miss City of Lakes Allison Lordbock, Miss Moorhead Tiffany Schulstad-Peterson, and Aja Majkrzak Miss Capital City.