PHOENIXVILLE - Seven young ladies are working on memorizing dance routines, demonstrating poise and delivering strong public speaking skills.
What time of the year is it? It's Dogwood Pageant time!
The girls will be competing for the crown starting at 7 p.m. on April 20 at Barkley Elementary School.
This is the 62nd year for the pageant. The contestants are Clarisse Hunt, Alex Wertman, Alyse Phillips, Rachel Miller, Victoria Ferguson, Shannon Malloy and Sydney Scavello. The Dogwood Pageant queen rides on a float in the Dogwood parade on May 18 and attends various community events. Girls who are in their junior year of school and live in Phoenixville are eligible to participate in the pageant.
Some of the girls have reminisced about admiring the Dogwood Queen when they were young children.
'Ever since I was little, I always saw the queen at the parade and wanted to be just like her,' Malloy said.
Wertman said she wanted to participate in the pageant because of the tradition.
'I've watched the pageant each year since I've lived in this town,' she said. 'It's a great tradition to keep going. It brings a lot of people together and it's great to see your friends on stage performing.'
Ferguson added, 'I've known people who have been in it and I thought it would help me break out of my shell because I'm really shy.'
Phillips said she made a pact with a friend that they would do the pageant together, but her friend was unable to participate. She said she wanted to be in the pageant because it looked like it's fun.
Hunt said she decided to get involved with the pageant because her mother always wanted her to be in it and she heard it was really fun.
Participating in the pageant is quite a growing experience for the contestants. Each has her own challenges preparing for the big night.
Malloy said it's been difficult deciding on a talent. She said she is going to perform a dance or a hula hoop dance.
Several of the girls said the most challenging part was the dancing.
'It's nervewracking knowing other people are going to watch me dance,' Wertman said.
Although Wertman is concerned about dancing, her talent is going to be a comedic dance. She is going to perform the YouTube hit, 'Evolution of Dance' which features different dancing fads throughout the decades.
Phillips and Hunt said they play field hockey so they are used to athletic exercise, but dancing is different and difficult for them.
Hunt said, 'Sports are more organized. I've needed a little extra help.'
Phillips added, 'I've never taken dancing lessons before.'
Hunt is singing 'Walk On' by U2 for her talent and Phillips is playing Beethoven's 'Fur Elise' on piano.
Scavello said the hardest thing about the pageant has been memorizing a personality.
For the pageant, each girl had to choose a woman, a 'firework' in their lives, that they admire and act like that person.
Her talent is dancing and tumbling to a variety of songs.
Two of the girls have had to overcome injuries suffered in the winter.
Miller can't perform all of the dance moves because she tore her ACL in December.
'I was thinking I was going to quit, but the girls talked me out of it,' she said. 'I'm glad I didn't quit.'
Miller will be singing 'Stay' by Sugarland.
Ferguson broke her leg in February and needed time to recover from surgery.
Her talent will be dancing to a medley of Madonna songs.
This year's pageant directors, Shelley Endrey, Mary Meanix and Laura Leidig, are enjoying their time with the girls.
'The most fun is the laughs,' Meanix said. 'They're a hoot. They're just regular girls. All of them are funny and smart.'
Advance tickets for the pageant can be purchased online or from any Dogwood contestant. They can also be purchased at the door. For more information, visit www.phoenixvilledogwoodfestival.org.