State contest a learning experience for Hannah Ball

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“Pageants are about more than being pretty”

By Lorrie Kinkade


The Trimble Banner

While her Trimble County Lady Raider teammates were fighting for a win on the court Jan. 10, Hannah Ball was parading across a stage in the Galt House’s Grand Ballroom as a contestant in the Miss Kentucky County Fair pageant.

Although Ball, the 2008 Miss Trimble County Fair, did not place at the state competition, the experience was one she said she would never forget. And hopes to have again.

“I definitely want to go back,” Ball said in an interview this week. “It was such a great experience.”

“She’s been telling people it was very addicting,” her mother, Shelley, added.

Ball’s journey to the Galt House began at a Trimble County High School Teen Leadership event last spring. Following a presentation that required her to speak in front of a group, Jeana Alexander, the mother of another program participant, asked if she planned to enter the county contest. A resident of Carroll County, Ball was eligible for the local competition because she attends Trimble County High School.

“She offered to help me with it, but I told her no… I thought pageants were just about trying to be the prettiest. I had never been in one before and really didn’t want to,” Ball said.

At Alexander’s urging, however, Ball said she agreed to the pageant experience and was “really surprised” by what she learned and by being crowned the local winner.

Since July, she has appeared in parades organized by the Trimble County Fair Board and the Madison Regatta Committee and assisted with the Little Miss Apple Festival contest. Additionally, she escorted the Trimble County Fair Little Miss & Mister winners at their state level contest during the Kentucky State Fair.

But nothing she has done as the county winner could have prepared her for her own state contest, she said.

“It was amazing. The county pageant is nothing like state,” she said.

The event began with the interview portion of the contest on Friday. Among the questions asked were what she would tell a prospective employer would make her a good candidate for a job and what the three most important things were in her life.

“I said family, friends and my basketball team. Maybe I should have said something else,” she said with a laugh. “I think I could have done better in the interviews. I needed to come back with an answer faster. But for my first time doing anything like that, I feel like I did really well.”

Ball said she was surprised by her lack of nervousness about the swimsuit portion and was “so relieved” to find out the state contest did not include an on-stage question.

“At county, they give us a list of possible questions, so you have time to think about what you would say to each one. I was worried they would ask something and I wouldn’t be able to think of anything to say. So when I found out Saturday morning they didn’t do the questions, I was excited.”

Going into the pageant, Ball thought her sparkly white evening gown was perfect; but after seeing ornate gowns worn by some of the other 85 contestants, she said she now knows what works at the county level doesn’t necessarily work at state.

“Some of the girls had dresses that cost $3,000. I couldn’t believe it. I know now that if I make it there again, I have to do some shopping,” she said.

The best part of the whole experience, Ball said, was getting to know new people, including Maria Montgomery, a former Kentucky contestant who went on to become Miss Kentucky USA.

“After rehearsal [Saturday morning], she stayed after to work with me to be ready for the stage Saturday night. I was really nervous about it, but she helped a lot,” she said.

“I don’t think people realize what these pageants are. They teach interview skills and build confidence and a lot of them offer scholarships. They aren’t just about being pretty. I know Hannah has really progressed and the things she has learned will help her in college and later,” Shelley said.

Ball, a junior this year at Trimble County High School, is grateful for the support shown by Trimble County Fair Board members, particularly Linda Craig and Debbie Perry, as well as Alexander’s coaching and support.

Ball plans to enter other county fair contests this summer in hopes of returning to the state contest next January.