Woodbury’s pageant pair vies for crownNot one, but two women from Woodbury will be competing for a state miss pageant crown this weekend.
By: Hank Long, Woodbury Bulletin
Not one, but two women from Woodbury will be competing for a state miss pageant crown this weekend.
After months of preparation, Andrea Bennett and Mary Swenson, who are students at the University of Minnesota, will step on stage at Ritsche Auditorium in St. Cloud Saturday in hopes of becoming the next Miss Minnesota International.
While they are both vying for the crown, which is decided by a panel of judges, they are also in the running for a “People’s Choice” award, where, well, the people choose their favorite.
At the contest’s website, voters can pledge dollars for votes to their pick or multiple picks. The contestant with the most pledged votes by the time the contest begins will be awarded the “People’s Choice” banner.
Money raised will go to paying for travel expenses of the eventual Miss Minnesota International’s trip to the national pageant and to the current Miss America International platform “Go Red for Women,” which helps raise dollars for the American Heart Association’s fight against women’s heart disease.
Woodbury will also be represented in the Miss Teen International category by Woodbury High School sophomore Gianna Capuzzi.
To support the candidates for “People’s Choice” go to: http://www.mrsminnesota.com/peoples%5Fchoice/
Platform is important
For Swenson, who coaches dance at a local studio and is a girl scout troop leader, the pageant will be the second time she has competed for Miss Minnesota International. Last year, she placed second-runner up.
“Last year was my first every pageant experience,” said Swenson, who holds the title Miss Woodbury. “But with all the work you put into it leading up to the pageant, it makes for an exciting time when you finally get on stage.”
The Miss International system is one of several pageant systems, but according to both Swenson and Bennett, the International system is more platform based, which allows the women to work hard for a cause they believe in.
Bennett, the current Miss Washington County and a graduate student at the U of M’s Carlson School of Management, said she was inspired to enter the pageant because it has allowed her to work on her platform, “Breaking the Cycle,” a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.
“I have been in an abusive relationship, and I have volunteered for organizations that help women escape abusive relationships,” Bennett said, “so for me this is a way I can make an impact.”
Swenson’s platform, entitled “Uniquely me, building the self-esteem of girls,” highlights the role that being involved with organizations like the Girl Scouts of America can help young girls help foster a positive self-image.
“I think it’s so important for girls these days to build up their self esteem and their self image,” Swenson said, “so that they’re more capable as they grow up in today’s world.”
Since last fall the women have been taking their respective platforms to the community have volunteered at myriad events.
They’ve also been working on the typical pageant tasks, such as picking out what to wear and appearing at Miss International events where the Woodbury women have also gotten to know each other as more than just contestants from the same city.
“It’s tough because we’re friends, but we’re both having a good time,” Swenson said.
The Miss Minnesota International pageant will take place March 14 and 15 at Ritsche Auditorium in St. Cloud.
The public has the ability to vote for their "People's Choice" prior to pageant weekend, and you can do so at: http://www.mrsminnesota.com/peoples%5Fchoice/