10/24/11 — Bests takes over leadership of Goldsboro's pageant

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Bests takes over leadership of Goldsboro's pageant

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 24, 2011 1:46 PM

Even before she became known as "Miss North Carolina's mother," Kim Best had her own history with pageants.

As a teen, she was a volunteer and then served for 10 years in the 1990s as business manager when there was a Miss Mount Olive pageant. She has also had many friends and family members who participated in various contests, including her own daughter, Hailey, Little Miss North Carolina 1999 and now at 20 is the state's representative for the upcoming Miss America pageant.

Mrs. Best, director of community services and marketing for The Partnership for Children of Wayne County, can add another role to her list -- executive director of the Miss Goldsboro program, with husband, Michael, who is self-employed.

The couple take over from predecessor Jay Sauls, who is moving to New York to pursue his own career.

"I'm excited about the challenge, I'm excited about the opportunity," she said of the preliminary scholarship program that has two additional options for younger girls.

Along with the Miss Goldsboro pageant, open to young women ages 17 to 24, there is the Outstanding Teen contest for ages 13 to 17, and Carolina Princess for ages 6-12. Applications are now being taken for all three, online at missgoldsboro@gmail.com.

The event will be held Feb. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theater. Work has begun on the production, with the operative word for the future of the local pageant being "tradition," Mrs. Best said.

"We have already contacted our past 50 Miss Goldsboros and we're working on having a luncheon every year, a sort of sorority of past winners," she said. "We want them to be invited every year.

"There are a lot of these ladies that still live in Wayne County. They can give us some great history, some great advice. This program has been going on since the early '40s and we're now looking at the name and the year for everyone who held that title from the '40s, '50s and '60s; we're trying to locate them or as many as possible."

Mrs. Best said it is important to preserve the rich history of the local program, which includes having a past representative who went on to become Miss North Carolina and vie for the Miss America crown. According to the Miss North Carolina organization, Miss North Carolina 1942, Hilda Ward Taylor, was from Goldsboro.

Witnessing firsthand her own daughter capture the state's crown has been a unique experience, Mrs. Best said.

"First and foremost, it's hard to explain in words because it's a goal she's had for years before she even knew there was a Miss North Carolina," she said. "It's like a rush of emotion. First it comes as, oh, it's awesome, our child has attained a goal, a lifetime goal.

"Hailey really thinks about this as a job, a job of service for her -- what does she want to gain and what does she want to learn this year? She really wants to make as much difference as she can."

Unabashedly proud, Mrs. Best said that she and her husband attempted to support whatever interests their children -- which also include son Elliott, a student at Eastern Wayne High School -- have had.

She is particularly supportive of anything affiliated with the Miss America program, she said, since it is the largest provider of scholarships for women in the nation.

"And next year the Miss North Carolina pageant will again be televised," she pointed out, something that hasn't happened since sometime in the '90s.

"That was Hailey's goal and her executive committee, to find a way to put this program back on the air. They have met with Time Warner Cable many, many times. They'll be announcing soon. It's not official but they're working out a plan."

As Miss North Carolina, Hailey is canvassing the state while preparing for the Miss America contest in Las Vegas in early January. It's a hectic schedule, her mom says, and typically her parents try to catch up with Hailey on the weekends.

"Hailey has something every single day -- she may be at the N.C. Trappers Convention in the morning, learning what they do and what they support and the policies they're pushing for, and the next afternoon she may be at a gala for military generals," she said.

The array of experiences have been vast and yet very educational and enjoyable, Mrs. Best said.

"We're learning so much together about our state, about the people of our state," she said. "It's been kind of interesting.

"She's been asked through Fort Bragg to actually go with a group from Fort Bragg to Afghanistan, to sky dive with the Golden Knights. She speaks to students about goal-setting, talking to civic groups, has hit every festival across the state. She has emceed programs, and not just scholarship programs but events all across the state."

Equally gratifying has been the outpouring of support from their hometown, Mrs. Best said.

"Wayne County has been phenomenal," she said. "Our whole family has been extremely blessed by the support that we have felt from Day One. A lot of people that she didn't even know, we got letters and cards and support."

Social media, particularly Facebook, has provided an added bonus, as the community is able to follow Hailey's travels daily.

But as busy as she is, her mother encourages local groups to take advantage of having a pageant queen with local ties.

"If people have events they want to book her for, they just need to contact Beth (Knox, vice president and business manager for the Miss N.C. Scholarship Pageant) at bethknox@missnc.org.

"We would like to see her as involved as possible in our home community. We would like to see Hailey used a lot more in her community as well as the military base."