Best busy preparing for Vegas
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 12, 2011 1:46 PM
News-Argus file photo
Miss North Carolina Hailey Best, accompanied by her father, Michael Best, on the piano, performs during a Welcome Home Miss North Carolina event at the Paramount Theatre at the end of July. Despite her busy schedule, Miss Best has worked to make regular appearances in her native Wayne County.
As reigning Miss North Carolina and Goldsboro native Hailey Best is groomed for the Miss America pageant, the most important piece of advice she has received is brief -- be prepared to win.
"Each year at Miss North Carolina, we always tell the girls, 'Pack a suitcase,'" said Beth Knox, vice president and business manager for the Miss N.C. Scholarship Pageant. "They try to stay humble. You really have to talk them through packing that suitcase to stay. But Hailey was prepared for that. She packed her suitcase (for Miss N.C.); her mom kept it in the car.
"We really have that same game plan for Miss America. You don't want to assume anything, but you need to go hoping for the best and preparing for the best."
So when the national pageant culminates with the coveted crown on Jan. 14, Hailey will "have that suitcase," Mrs. Knox said. Should she win, she would then be whisked off to New York City the next day, followed by media interviews, an appearance at the Super Bowl, meeting the president and a year of "incredible opportunities."
Already, though, she's an exemplary representative for the county as well as the state, her business manager said.
"The thing about Hailey, to be 20 years old, she's so polished already," Mrs. Knox said. "It's just a matter of fine-tuning a few things for her. ... I have full confidence in Hailey when she goes to Las Vegas. I really think if people want to see her, they'd better see her now because when she goes to Las Vegas, they're not going to see her for a year.
"I don't think people really understand how hard the job of being not only Miss North Carolina but Miss America, is. They get home maybe twice out of the year and it's just for a day or two. ... It's not an easy job but the benefits of that kind of exposure and the experiences are just incredible."
The road to Miss America is an exciting and extremely hectic one, Mrs. Knox said.
"She's busy every day in the month of October," she said. "She has appearances every single day.
"We're very excited about Miss North Carolina being back at the state fair this year. We haven't been a presence in probably 10 or 15 years. Hailey will be at the fair every day from the (Oct.) 13th through the 23rd, meeting people and signing autographs."
Since winning the state title on June 25, as Miss Durham, she has traveled extensively across the state. She has been able to make a few stops in Wayne County, including an unexpected one at Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair for the fair queen contest.
"I think Hailey is the perfect representative to be in the public eye," Mrs. Knox said. "There's something about Hailey that just draws people to her. ... She's got a wonderful support team at home, and we're dedicated to preparing her for when she arrives in Las Vegas."
And while organizers of the state program are betting Las Vegas-type odds that Hailey will be the "Best" for the Miss America crown, there's an added lucky charm in the mix.
"We're really excited about this year," Mrs. Knox said. "Maria Beale Fletcher was Miss N.C. 1961, then Miss America 1962, so this is the 50th anniversary of her being crowned.
"She lives in Las Vegas and will be honored this year. She has fallen in love with Hailey. We think that'll be our lucky charm. We think it would be awesome if she would win."
Until then, there are several ways the community can support Miss Best, be it in-state or in Las Vegas, where the national pageant will take place.
A wardrobe show will be held in Raleigh at 3 p.m. Dec. 18, in Fletcher Opera Theater in Memorial Auditorium. Tickets are $10 each and are available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"She will preview her entire wardrobe -- evening gown, talent costume," Mrs. Knox said. "Swimsuit and opening number are provided by the Miss America organization, and she'll also have those if they arrive in time. And she'll perform her talent."
Tickets are also still available for anyone interested in traveling to see the pageant live. Mrs. Knox said there are already about 85 people signed up to be part of her cheering section.
Hotel and ticket information can be found online at missnc.org.