The pool of contestants competing for tonight’s fair queen title is smaller than usual, but an unlikely rivalry ensures a pageant to remember.
Sisters Whitney Gaines, 19, and Alyssa Gaines, 15, will battle for the crown starting at 9 p.m., and even pageant director Patti Cross isn’t sure what to make of it.
“Whitney gives her sister such a hard time, she’s got a different sense of humor, and you don’t know when she’s joking, but she’s always joking,” said Cross, who has rehearsed the eight contestants leading up to the Miss Franklin County Fair Pageant.
Gifted with infectious smiles, both sisters are invitingly playful – though first-timer Alyssa is taking the competition more seriously than her older sister. The first thing that came out of Alyssa’s mouth when she heard Whitney had joined the competition was, “If you win, I will push you off the stage and take your crown!”
Truly, Alyssa would like to win, but her threat is a note from her sister’s sarcastic playbook. There will be no pushing or shoving in this year’s pageant.
“You think pageant girls are stuck up, but there’s not one girl that’s mean or sassy,” Whitney says. “We’re all outgoing and down to earth.”
In anticipation of the pageant, Whitney, a sophomore at Georgetown College, and Alyssa, a junior at Franklin County High School, sat down with The State Journal.
After a few introductory questions, big sister Whitney turned to Alyssa.
“Take that retainer out, you talk with a lisp when you leave it in.”
“Oh yeah, I forgot,” Alyssa said sheepishly as she removed it. “I always forget.”
That’s the Gaines girls’ true relationship. Big sis is always looking out for her little sis.
Q: So, have you competed in pageants before?
Alyssa: I was in Miss Teen for the fair in 2010.
Q: Did you win?
Alyssa: No! I got Miss Congeniality.
Whitney: I did baby pageants when I was little, until I was 3, and then at Western Hills, but that wasn’t to be in pageants, that was just about school involvement. I’m not a pageant queen girl.
Q: Did you ever win?
Whitney (laughing): No! Oh, goodness, no.
Q: What made you all decide to compete in this pageant?
Whitney: To make new friends and show Frankfort what I’m all about.
Alyssa: For the experience, for practice for upcoming pageants and just to have confidence in myself.
(Unable to resist the setup for another joke, she added, “I wanna win. I want the jackpot.”)
Q: What do your parents think about you two competing?
Alyssa: I don’t think our dad likes it that much. He likes us to play sports.
Whitney: Well, he just doesn’t like us to be sad. He gets upset when we’re sad. Our mom’s excited we’re in it together. The age difference has always been too big in the past.
Q: Where do you think each other will excel in the pageant?
Whitney: I know one of the things for bathing suit competition is an athletic body, and she definitely has that. She’s just on top of it, a very confident person, which is really good for a pageant.
Alyssa: She’s very congenial; she can make friends very easily.
Whitney: That doesn’t help me in the pageant.
Alyssa: Yes, but I think the judges will like her, her personality.
Q: How would you explain your styles?
Whitney: I have a very different style.
Alyssa: She’s weird.
Whitney: Yeah, I guess I am weird. I wear cowgirl boots all the time, but I’m not a redneck. Dresses and cowboy boots are my thing, though they aren’t popular anymore.
Alyssa: I’m more of a Ralph Lauren kind of girl, J.Crew.
Q: Anything you’re nervous about?
Alyssa: I am about the question. (During one part of the evening, contestants are asked a single question pulled from a fishbowl.)
Whitney: I am about the bathing suit competition. I’m wearing a skirt with my bathing suit.
Q: Is that allowed?
Whitney: I have asked … But I don’t care if it’s allowed or not. It’s the fair. They don’t need to see my naked legs or any other part of me for that matter.
Q: So, last question. Who will win?
Alyssa: There are a lot of girls who have a lot of experience, a lot who have done a lot of pageants. We haven’t had much experience. It will probably be one of them.
Whitney: I don’t think I’ll win. Alyssa has a good chance. I’ll cheer her on. I’ll fix her hair in the back. That’s really why I’m in the pageant, to fix her hair. It would be great to win, but I would feel awful if I won over her.
Alyssa (smiling at her sister): I wouldn’t feel too bad if I beat you.