TORRINGTON – Kari Parish, first runner-up in the Little Miss Wyoming Pageant, hosted an event to thank her sponsors on the evening of Thursday, July 1, in Platte Valley Bank’s community room.
Kari demonstrated how she walks and poses for pageants. After that, her parents encouraged attendees to ask Kari questions, both to demonstrate how pageants work and as an opportunity for her to practice.
The event concluded with Kari demonstrating her pageant talent – singing and playing the piano. Kari began with the piece she performed at her most recent pageant, which was an evolution of music. She also performed a few other songs she had been working on.
Kari said originally, she was going to bake cookies for all her sponsors.
Cheri Parish, Kari’s mother, said the idea to have a sponsor event was to give them an opportunity to see what they had invested in.
Kari said she had more than 25 sponsors for her most recent pageant, the Little Miss Wyoming Pageant, in Sheridan.
To find sponsors, Kari said her dad gave her a list of businesses to contact and Kari scheduled times to meet with them.
“Basically, they interviewed me and I asked for sponsorships,” she said.
It was tough at the beginning, according to Kari, but eventually people started becoming more supportive of her through sponsorship and one-time donations.
Kari said her hope is to have businesses and individuals continue to sponsor her from pageant to pageant.
“I think they probably would, but I don’t know,” she said. “It’s up to them.”
So far, Kari said sponsor money has been used to purchase a speaker and microphone stand, hair products, multiple outfits and shoes.
“It doesn’t look as hard as it actually is,” she said. All the preparation and making sure costs are covered takes a lot of work, according to Kari.
Cheri said it takes about $2,000 to fund a person’s first pageant. If someone wins a pageant, she was told it takes about $6,000 to cover the costs of traveling to represent.
“Gearing up for the next year, we figured we better get started on this right away,” she said.
“Some of the parents will just fund this for the girls out of their own pocket,” she explained. “I personally don’t like that idea, not because I don’t want to give her money, but she’d be robbed of a lot of things that she gets out of going and looking for sponsorships.”
By finding sponsors, Kari gets practice with interviews and presenting herself in public. With people supporting her, Cheri said it also drives Kari to want to do better, for them.
A few community members attended the event.
“We were surprised that not one representative of any of the businesses that sponsored her came but are also no less grateful for their financial support,” said Cheri.
Kari said the next pageant she is thinking about competing in is a Christmas pageant. After that, it will be next year’s Little Miss Wyoming Pageant.
Having been awarded first runner-up this year, Kari is hopeful for her next shot at a Little Miss Wyoming title. Kari said now she has a much better grasp on how pageants work.
“The biggest challenge is figuring out what all you need,” Kari said. In Sheridan, Kari said she came out in the same outfit for several parts of the event, because she did not know it was typical for contestants to change so often.
Cheri said, “but even without doing that part of it, she still placed first runner-up, so we know she has the ability to win this.”
Kari said the whole thing is totally new and that her mom has served as her coach.
“I’ve been playing piano and singing for pretty much as long as I can remember, but it’s pretty much been just messing around, not actually using it for something important,” she said.
So far, Kari said the most rewarding part of doing pageants is having an audience for her piano and singing.
Kari encourages people who are interested to try out a pageant. If she wins a title, Kari said she would consider doing a pageant camp for other girls, to share what she has learned.