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Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant: Pageant returns to teach life skills, inspire and represent the next generation

By Kate Griffin, posted Sep 7, 2022 on

Photo provided by Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Pageant

Mark your calendars for the most glamorous event of the fall! Executive Director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Sarahgrace Snipes and Pageant Director Rhonda Whaley are proud to announce the 24th annual Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant this year om Sept. 17. Starting in 1998, the pageant has been a longstanding part of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. For decades, the pageant has been helping young ladies make lifelong connections, build their self esteem, and acquire life skills. 


Untraditionally taking place in September this year, the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant breaks more stereotypes than just the date surrounding pageants. 


“It’s not a beauty pageant, just to let you know. They’re not called that anymore,” informed Whaley. “A lot of people have misconceptions about pageants. They think it’s based on just beauty, but it’s not. When it comes to the pageant, it’s supposed to be more of a positive experience, and it helps a girl acquire confidence, self-esteem, interview skills, and it helps them prepare for the future, for college.” 


That’s not an empty claim, either; the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant works hard to highlight all facets of a young lady’s personality. The pageant stars five queens representing five age groups, with different divisions attributed to each group. The ‘Miss’ title for college-age range contestants includes four different categories a contestant will be judged on: the private interview, the onstage question, the evening gown, and the talent. Additionally, there is also a community service award that contestants can win. Just participating seems to be an accomplishment in and of itself. 


“Having the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant is an opportunity for us to engage with a different audience of young ladies,” said Snipes. “The community relationships– I do think that is one thing that will come out with Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant is being, not necessarily a role model for the young girls we’re about to bring on as royalty, but also seeing them develop in the next year. We talk to businesses, we talk to other organizations in the area, we’re able to see those individuals grow throughout the year and thrive, but being able to see those ladies thrive will offer a different perspective.” 


The Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant emphasizes the importance of local young women’s success, present and future. The people behind the event itself can see how past contestants have utilized skills they’ve learned from the pageant, and how that has assisted them later down the line. Networking, interviewing, and presentation are all invaluable life skills, that’s where the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant steps in, to help the young ladies of the area prepare for whatever life may throw at them. It is important to ensure the youth of today have every opportunity to succeed, and the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant makes sure to do their part in giving a leg up in the world. The Pageant works to teach social skills, all while promoting a positive atmosphere, and good character qualities.


“...A true accomplishment is not monetary, it does not mean you have to have a lot of money, a true accomplishment is knowing that you’ve done the best you can in your life, you’ve been the best person you can be,” said Whaley. 


Acting as almost an insider prep course for adulthood, the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant focuses on honing interview skills, presenting oneself professionally and building that valuable self-esteem. Additionally, winning the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant can result in scholarship money and there are multiple opportunities for awards. Networking is everything in this day and age and the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant makes for an excellent place to start building those valuable connections. The pageant does an excellent job of setting the stage, literally, and also setting up opportunities for local young women. 


“The goal itself for the pageant would be to make sure every young lady leaves with a positive experience, knowing they have put forth the best effort they can, that they are all winners, they just have one person selected to represent them at this time. Just for them to walk away knowing that they still have a wonderful positive experience about themselves, that they learn and grow as a person,” said Whaley.


The people behind the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant are proud of their efforts, and proud of representing the local community. 


“It’s a wonderful pageant, it’s a great opportunity for young ladies in the area to start getting involved, and learning about the community, that’s a big thing we’re stressing is community involvement,” Whaley added. 


Counter to the stigma surrounding pageants, the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant refreshingly differs by providing a helpful, supportive environment for young ladies to thrive. The people behind the event itself work hard to ensure this. 


“It takes a huge team, volunteer team to put the pageant on also, you’re talking like 40 people to help put on this pageant, that are all volunteers. It takes a lot,” said Whaley. 


The Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant upholds every standard, making all the hard work evident and consistent with the quality of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. 


“Because it is so special we’re a part of the Dogwood Festival, because the dogwood is such a special, beautiful flower, with it blossoming in the springtime, it is like a young lady who blossoms and grows through different stages of her life,” stated Whaley. Between all the hard work that goes into it, the value it provides, and the representation of community, the Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival Pageant is not an event to be missed this fall.

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