My throat hurt, my stomach felt queasy, I was sweating.  No, I wasn’t getting sick.  I was watching the announcement of the final six at the Miss USA pageant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  I had cheered my voice raw for my very own hometown contestant, Miss North Dakota USA, Audra Mari, was 1st Runner Up! My stomach was in nervous knots for those beautiful ladies, and lastly, the temperature in Baton Rouge is roughly equivalent to the temperature of the sun. 

A few weeks earlier, my husband had surprised me with a trip to watch the Miss USA Pageant.  We don’t get away very often and he had arranged everything: tickets, hotel, car rental, flight.  I was just supposed to come along and enjoy myself. I am very good at the job he left for me to do. 

Saturday afternoon, we were able to do a private Meet and Greet with Erin Brady, Miss USA 2013-2014.  She is a delightful woman.  Her personality sparkles and she has a beautiful way of making everyone around her feel special.  We were able to watch Erin take her title a year earlier at the Miss USA pageant in Las Vegas.  So meeting her in person on this hot afternoon felt like we going full circle. 

After meeting Erin and getting autograph’s for my girls.  We were given a guided tour of the back stage and behind the scenes workings of the pageant.  What a huge affair.  All of the staff we were introduced to were amazing.  We even got to have the new HD screens explained to us by the set designer.  Getting to experience what goes on behind the curtain made watching the pageant even more interesting.

Sunday night, everyone had to be in their seats by 6:30.  Miss USA is aired live and we were going to be the audience.  We were given very specific instructions about when to stand and sit and how to cheer.  As an audience we were given a “handler” to make sure we performed our part of the pageant production correctly.  The show was about to begin.

The contestants took the stage with a special Louisiana flair.  Each girl announced herself to the crowd with a Marti Gras mask.  From the very beginning to the last moment on stage each woman shown with her own unique personality.  It is such a learning experience to be in the audience of a pageant.  So much of who each contestant truly is shows through.

I am so lucky that with only a little more than a month to go until my own turn at Nationals, I got to watch another set of beauty’s grace the national stage.  The thing that struck me the most is that the level these women were competing at, is the level I am at.  WOW!  I have been given such a great blessing and privilege this year.  I am ready to strut my own stuff on stage.

Oh my, I think my stomach is beginning to hurt again and I am feeling a bit sweaty…

There you have it, that’s a bit about my vacation.  I am ready to go again next year.  Let’s go together. It’ll be a grand adventure!

Janelle Steinberg, Mrs. North Dakota International 2014

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