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The Good Stuff by Shelley Bennett

Alison Templeton puts the finishing touches on the enchanted forest backdrop

I haven’t watched a Miss Lassen County pageant from the audience in almost 30 years. In that time, I’ve never seen a complete talent, heard a finished impromptu answer, or watched the face of the winner as they announce her name. And I’m ok with that because I am backstage on competition night and it fulfills my need for glitter and sparkles and all things pageant-y.

The week started with a power outage and news that it might last for several days. Fair manager Kaitlyn Downing wouldn’t let that stop fair week and went to work procuring generators from every corner of the north state.

No doubt you have seen the pictures of our beautiful Miss Lassen County Alliyah Yerington, Ambassadress of Susanville EmmaLee Rotlisberger, and Princess Georgia Bennett. These three amazing young women were chosen to represent the Lassen County Fair and our community last Wednesday night. I also want you to know that these young women have beautiful hearts and were born to serve.

This group of contestants is like no other. All ten of them brought something special to the table and made an impact in my life. Jodi Chandler, with her gift for storytelling and kind demeanor, Jordan Smith’s excitement and zest for life, and Taylor Somerville’s sense of humor and goofiness all made me look forward to our weekly meetings.

Katelyn Ernaga’s eagerness to volunteer and take risks and Izzy Norwood’s natural grace and beauty only added to the camaraderie. Then there was Chloe Dodge and her ability to communicate through music (and baked goods!) and Katelyn Sanchez, whose giving nature was displayed multiple times.

Each young woman has unique traits, yet they all blended seamlessly to create a wonderful show to kick off the Lassen County Fair.

There were also many other players backstage who made this production happen. My sister, Alison Templeton, spent several weeks painting an enchanted forest for our Midsummer Night’s Dream themed competition. It was just magical with many details, such as mushrooms, vines, and a sparkling crown and accented the contestants’ dresses perfectly.

Choreographer Jillaine Singleton worked with the contestants since early June to create an opening number that entertained. Yes, they learned a dance, but under Jillaine’s watchful eyes they also gained confidence and grace which carried on throughout the show.

My partner Jen Wood was a constant light. For every challenge, she was quick to find a solution. On pageant night, she calmed nerves, encouraged, and smiled through it all.
Friends Becky Williams, Dawn Lightsey, Kerrissa Schall, and Salome Shaw all stepped in to help fasten zippers, apply jewelry, and keep track of costumes. They also created a beautiful reception space for our celebration afterwards.

Hairdressers Bill Ryan, Rita Heath, Debbie Callegari, and Ashley Adair, assisted by Bailey Heath made sure every contestant looked and felt their best when they went onstage. The hairspray and bobby pins were flying, but they got everyone out there on time.

Mary Kay consultants Cary Ehrlich, Barb Rausch, assisted by Macy Rausch applied lip color, eyelashes, and blush to ensure that each contestant could be seen onstage.

Escorts Zak Schall and Ethan Shaw looked sharp in their tuxedos from Uptown Uniforms. They accompanied each contestant onstage and also moved props and equipment during the talent phase. Our outgoing court Autry, Julia, and Molly were busy with their many duties and also took time to cheer on the contestants.

Emcee Jeremy Couso is the consummate host. He makes each contestant feel welcomed and entertains the audience as well. He runs the show smoothly and there is never an awkward silence when he is around.

Judges’ Assistant Gracie Claypool and Score Tabulator Mandy McGarva were so fast! They had the envelopes sealed and delivered before Autry took her last walk.

My husband Leo and our children are always there to set up, clean up, and support me. Landon even made a last minute run to pick up the programs minutes before the show started.

Something special happened backstage right before the new Miss Lassen was crowned. As the contestants realized the night was almost over, they gathered together to laugh and reminisce about their summer. They recalled friendships made and promised to meet throughout the fair.

On Thursday morning, I received this text, “I may not have walked away with a crown but I got the experience, memories, and all the fun so it was still a win in my book.”

You see, the Miss Lassen County pageant isn’t just winning a crown and scholarship, it’s more than that. It’s about discovering your own strengths and talents and making the most of them. It’s about realizing your challenges and learning how to overcome them. It’s about the people you meet along the way.

Since Wednesday, many people have said, “I don’t know how you do it.” Well, now you do. I surround myself with incredible people and I observe as it all comes together. My appreciation is deep for all those involved in making this dream come true every summer.

Special moment between contestants
My partner Jen and I smile after a successful night
Alliyah’s crowning from my viewpoint
Contestants are excited to take the stage for the opening number

Remember when news was ‘newsy’? When you read about weddings, family events and engagement announcements in the newspaper? If you have something that might be newsworthy, please submit it to [email protected] and I’ll do my best to include it here in “The Good Stuff.”

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso Publisher/Editor
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