VILONIA — Librarian Terina Atkins recently shared a story about a student who attended Vilonia Middle School and her love for reading. The child is now at Soaring Wings Ranch, a place for “children in need of a strong family structure,“ and Atkins said the youngster has no daily access to a library.
“She was in my library everyday,” Atkins said, pausing long enough to choke back tears. “She has to have a library.”
The plight of the young girl may be the motivation for the librarian beginning a pageant to help provide books to the ranch. While they do not have a library at this time, Atkins said, she knows it is on the Ranch administration’s wish list.
“I just can’t say enough good about what they are doing out there,” she said. “They provide counseling, education and a lot of one on one.”
Atkins’ daughter Megan also may be an inspiration for the fundraising event.
“My daughter likes to participate in pageants and she loves to read,” Atkins said. “We prefer being in pageants that are community related or for a good cause. She was in one this summer to help Arkansas Children’s Hospital. We thought we could couple the two things and make it an annual event to help some literacy program. Soaring Wings is a wonderful place, and I hope we can help them.”
Thus, Atkins, along with her daughter and other volunteers including Kerri Kocourek, launched the Beauties, Beaus & Books Royalty Pageant to be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 19 at the Vilonia Baptist Fellowship Church. The pageant is open to children from birth to girls up to 19 and for boys from birth to seven years old.
All of the proceeds, Atkins said, will go toward purchasing books for Soaring Wings and to the counseling department.
“We hope to be an annual pageant which focuses on helping a different literacy based project each year,” she added.
There are several different divisions ranging from Wee Miss to Toddler Miss, Mini Miss, Tiny Miss, Petite Miss to Little Miss, Miss Pre-teen, Jr. Miss, Teen Miss and Miss. Also, Atkins said they are seeking sponsorship to begin a scholarship for college age participants.
“This is not based on beauty,” Atkins said, but instead poise, charm and personality. Also, she said, girls aged 10 and up will be asked literacy based questions in the mix.
“For instance, we might ask them what they like to read,” Atkins said.
The early bird entry fee is $25 if paid before Dec. 31. Afterwards, the fee will be $35. Also there is a $5 fee for photographs.
Each division will have first through third alternates. And, all participants will receive something. Either a crown, sash, plaque or trophy, Atkins said.
There will also be a crowd favorite division where the audience will have a vote by donating to see their favorite win. The contestant in each division with the highest number of votes (via money) receives a crown (girls) or plaque (boys). All money collected through the crowd pleaser will go directly to Soaring Wings Ranch, Atkins said. Checks are accepted (make payable to Soaring Wings Ranch.) Absentee votes may be collected by the contestant and turned in the day of the pageant.
The deadline for entering is Feb. 1, Atkins said. For more information, call Atkins at 501-733-4678 or entry forms may be picked up on any Vilonia campus.