Sunday, June 28, 2015|3:11 p.m.
Something I learned over the weekend: When having a bottle of wine provided to a small reception, that vino will arrive much quicker if you drop the name of Susan Anton than if you do not.
It was late Friday night at the Flamingo, after the evaluating panel for the Miss Nevada America and Miss Impressive Teen competitors had gone back to the hotel from the Smith Center. The two shows were held Friday and Saturday in Reynolds Hall, with Katherine Kelley (Miss Summerlin) winning Miss Nevada on Saturday afternoon and Lauren Watson (Miss Lake Mead) also announced Saturday after voting had actually concluded Friday night.
That day was long, as it must have been, jammed with a number of hours of personal interviews of all candidates at the Flamingo and the later conclusion at Reynolds Hall for the Miss Exceptional Teen contest.
Afterward, the judges ambled into a post-event celebration (“decompression experience” would be a more accurate term) and an order of wine was made.
It took a while, however when the personnel showed up and saw Anton in the room, it was, “Wow! You headlined right here! Commercials! Merv Griffin! You were in the Miss America Pageant!” Anton laughed … and poured a glass, well should have (though I raised my popular glass of iced tea). The panel was wide-ranging, with previous Miss Nevada 1995 Jennifer Lier, a terrific singer in Las Vegas, working as lead judge. Likewise serving were Vegas publication Editor-in-Chief Andrea Bennett, “Jersey Boys” Music Director and Composers Showcase of Las Vegas founder Keith Thompson, Washington state Miss America official Mike Miller and UNLV Athletics Director Tina Kuntzer-Murphy.
This procedure of evaluating the Miss Nevada pageants needs a lot of preparation, effort and authentic care. Having actually covered the national pageant at Planet Hollywood during its run in Las Vegas from 2006-2013, I was well aware of the organizational obstacles and work took into staging the event. The prep work of the candidates constantly has appeared. However where I was most impressed was during those private interviews, which belong to 8- and 10-minute press conferences.
These girls managed themselves competently as questions were volleyed from everywhere on the panel. “How do you feel about the most recent Supreme Court judgment making same-sex marriages legal across the country?” “How is the advancement of the Tesla plant in Reno going to alter the economy of that area?” “It says right here you can recite the alphabet, backward, in five seconds. Can you do that now?”
The Miss Nevada company dealt with searing, and should have, criticism after in 2014’s contest showed a scoring irregularity that resulted in 2 contestants it the Miss Outstanding Teenager competitors being sent to the national pageant in Orlando, Fla., as “co-winners.” Jodi Fonfa was generated to reset the organization in Las Vegas, and Dana Martin (other half of Smith Center President Myron Martin and a former Miss Texas) headed up this year’s pageant production team and put together the judging panel. Brought in as co-emcees were Clint Holmes and Kelly Clinton-Holmes, who were, predictably, outstanding as they alternately entertained, presented and navigated the production.
The significance of this program was additional enhanced by the presence of Sam Haskell, the national Miss America CEO. With thousands of dollars in scholarship cash being provided to some really excellent young women, this year’s competitors granted a pair of winners who will certainly represent our state admirably. I was honored not only to serve, but to spend quality time working with a group of judges who were hard-focused on doing this right. And we did. As they say in such circumstances, “Cheers.”