Women from across East and North Texas have been busy preparing for the 2019 Ms. Texas Senior Classic Pageant in Tyler.

At a recent rehearsal, contestants practiced answering questions from mock judges and perfected their walk across the stage. The pageant is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at Holiday Inn, 5701 S. Broadway Ave.

This year’s pageant has 16 contestants, mostly from East and North Texas, although it is open to women 60 or over from across the state. Most contestants are in their 60s, 70s or 80s.

During the rehearsal Thursday at Sylvania Church, pageant Director Peggy Wagner, who has worked in the pageant business 37 years, coaxed the contestants in preparation for the interview and evening gown categories of the contest.

Other categories of the competition will be talent performed during the contest and a written philosophy of life that the contestants will write in advance of the competition, but which emcees will read aloud as the contestants walk across the stage modeling their evening attire during the show.

This is the third year for Bobbi Decker, of Tyler, 65, to enter the pageant. She keeps coming back, she said, to keep going the friendships she has made in the course of competing.

Other contestants have given her moral support and love when she lost her husband, mother and best friend last year. “They were there totally with me all the way helping,” Decker said. “They’ve been very supportive and helpful to get me through it.”

The pageant is something that “really advances women our age,” Decker said. “It keeps us going and it keeps us young. It’s a lot of fun and I’ve made a lot of friends.”

Decker has had fun looking for an evening gown for the pageant.

“At our age, we don’t want anything too matronly, but we don’t want anything too young,” she said.

Decker’s talent this year will be reading a comedy skit. She said competing in the pageant has gotten her more relaxed when talking in front of people.

Pam Braziel’s neighbor signed her up for the pageant this year after she turned 60. Braziel, of Waco, said she is looking forward to competing for the first time. She is enjoying the camaraderie and having a good time with other contestants.

As her talent, Braziel plans to maneuver cups in time with “The Cup Song” from the movie “Pitch Perfect.”

“I’m trying to perfect it," Braziel said. "It’s not perfecting very well, but I’m working on it.”

Wagner gave the contestants tips for how to conduct themselves during the interview category of the competition. A panel of three judges will interview each contestant for five minutes prior to the contest.

That will be the first time that judges see the contestants and the first impression is very important, Wagner said, suggesting contestants wear church type clothes to their interview.

As the interview progresses, Wagner advised, “Be positive … it’s most important. Don’t be negative. Always look the judges in the eye. Make it funny appropriately. Judges love to laugh, but don’t be inappropriate with trying to make it funny. Of course, smile. Do not ramble. If you ramble too much, all the judges don’t get their questions in.”

She told the contestants to be mindful of their posture during the interview and to sit up straight.

Overall, Wagner suggested that for the interview, the contestants “just be yourself and don’t try to be something you aren’t. Have fun. Just enjoy it because you are going to get to talk about yourself with a captive audience. We all like to about ourselves.”

Judges are not allowed to ask questions about politics, religion or race, but may ask questions about many other topics. Whatever they ask will be a surprise to the contestants since they are not told in advance what the questions will be.

However, contestants who have competed in previous years counseled first-time contestants during the rehearsal that they are likely to be asked some form of the question how would they promote the pageant if chosen as queen.

Wagner recalled that during a pageant she was at for children, a judge asked a teenager if she could be a door, what kind of door she would be.

The 17-year-old replied that she would be a swinging oak door, because she swings with the way things are going and doesn’t let things bother her and because oak is a solid wood and she is solid in her beliefs.

When it comes to modeling, contestants during the Ms. Texas Senior Classic Pageant are required to wear floor-length evening attire.

During the modeling category, Wagner suggested that contestants be graceful, always smile, walk slowly, don’t look down but do look at the judges when passing by them in the middle of the stage while modeling their evening attire.

When they appear on stage to model their attire, Wagner said contestants ought to be confident in themselves, feel at ease and let their arms swing naturally and slowly.

Twitter: @Tylerpaper

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