Many little girls dream of having a rhinestone-studded tiara placed on their heads and walking down the runway as the newly crowned Miss America.
For nine young women, the first leg of the journeyfor the Miss America crown begins at the Grover C. Maxwell Performing Arts Center at Augusta State University on Saturday.
"People say that it's a beauty pageant, but no, it's not," said Lynn Mays, director of the Miss Augusta pageant. "Thirty percent of the score is the interview, and 40 percent is talent. It is truly a scholarship pageant."
About $2,000 in scholarship money will be awarded at the 26th annual pageant, which is sponsored by the Augusta Jaycees.
The judges will be looking for a woman between 17 and 24 who "is well-rounded, well-spoken with a strong platform and has scholastic achievement," she said.
Once crowned, Miss Augusta 2001 becomes a "real focal point" in the community, Ms. Mays said.
Miss Augusta will be present for ribbon cuttings, the lighting of the city's Christmas tree, the annual Red Carpet Tour of the city and other special events.
In June, she will compete for the Miss Georgia title, and, if she wins, will represent the state in the Miss America competition.
"Any one of these young ladies could take it all the way," Ms. Mays said.
This year's contestants are Valerie Marie Guilfoyle, 18; Candice Elizabeth Wheeler, 18; Elizabeth Ann Hooker, 19; Candace Denise Sawyer, 19; Christy Bonaparte, 20; Lisa Kathleen Arnold, 19; Dana Allison Clark, 17; Gail Morrison Wheatly, 20; and Goldei Mary Baysa, 20.
The winner will succeed April Brooks, Miss Augusta 2000.
The pageant will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10.
Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at (803) 441-6927 or email@example.com.