At times, the night couldn’t have been more perfect for Elizabeth Lynch on Saturday as she competed for the title of Miss Jefferson County at Wright Denny Intermediate. At other times, things could have been a little more storybook-appropriate.
On Sunday afternoon, Lynch laughed thinking back to the competition, thinking about the evening dress part when her dress got caught under her heel.
“I slipped a bit, but it was fine,” Lynch said. “It was a bit wild, but in the moment it was either you ran away from the stage or you laughed and did better next time. It was quite a comedic moment, I have to admit.
The trip-up didn’t trip Lynch up as she was eventually crowned Miss Jefferson County 2022. Isabelle Scarlet Smith-Pounds was also named Miss Jefferson County’s Outstanding Teenager, and the Miss Shenandoah titles went to Jo Hott (Miss) and Sophia Smith (outstanding teenager). Abigail McBee won Miss Blue Ridge.
“It was so nice to be able to get on stage (Saturday night), to represent myself and my family in the best way possible,” Lynch said.
Lynch, a master’s student at the University of West Virginia, has been part of the Miss America Organization (MAO) for four years, having held the titles of Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair and Miss Berkeley County, among others. and along the way she learned so much about herself and her competitors who remain loyal to her today.
“When I started, it was definitely a bit overwhelming at first,” admitted Lynch. “Then you realize that the girls you work with are all there for the same purpose: to empower other women around and make a difference in their community.
“Once you realize that all you have to do in this competition is be authentically yourself, then that’s all that matters. You realize how amazing it can be and how great it can be. impact your life. It’s crazy. The amount of work that goes into all of this, it’s so hard sometimes. You talk to these ladies, and it blows your mind at the amount of things they do, that either at school or in their community.
Her fellow competitors aren’t the only ones doing big things as Lynch is a first-generation farmer, falling in love with horses at the age of 5 before transitioning into swing herding at 9 and thriving from there.
“My whole social impact initiative is about the importance of farmers and farmers in the state of West Virginia and their impact on our daily lives,” she said. “I’m actually a first-generation farmer. My family wasn’t really into it, and at age 5, for some reason, I was just in love with horses. It became something more. In high school, I really understood how important agriculture is in everyone’s life and how noble it is. You may not always need a lawyer or a heart surgeon, but you will always need a farmer.
In a way, Saturday night’s headline came full circle as it reminded Lynch of his original competitive roots at the Berkeley County Youth Fair, a place where agriculture reigns supreme.
“Programs like the Berkeley County Youth Fair and the Jefferson County Fair are about supporting young people in agriculture and trying to grow it so they can grow it in the future and keep it alive. the historic tradition of agriculture,” she said. “I often get this question: how can you be a farmer and still wear pageant heels? That’s the whole point of this organization is to prove that anyone, anyone in America can be Miss America , no matter what your background, no matter what you’re passionate about. You can be Miss America.
Lynch encouraged everyone to support local farmers’ markets and to thank the farmers, who play such a vital role in everyone’s life.
“Without them, we would have nothing. An industry that feeds you is an industry worth fighting for,” she said.
Lynch thanked her family, especially her mother and father, for always supporting her throughout her adventures.
As Lynch gracefully handled her journey under pressure, met offstage by the support of her fellow competitors, Smith-Pounds recalled the feeling of welcome and support she found in the MAO when she was there. first participated a few years ago. Smith-Pounds explained that she competed as a child before taking a long hiatus, only to return during her quarantine.
“This pageant system,” she said, was the reason for her return. “I did it two years ago, and I had to imagine what I was doing. But everyone was so encouraging that I decided to come back and try again after going through different contest systems. It’s always been so welcoming.
She thought about Saturday night, sharing the offstage fun of helping her fellow contestants get ready, the almost slumber party feel behind the scenes that contrasts with all the stereotypes of the competition world. Smith-Pounds’ spirit landed on Karrington Childress, who was competing in the Miss category.
Childress approached her backstage after the Smith-Pounds exit, unhappy with her response as the spotlight was on her. The oldest contestant said she remembered the youngsters from years past, assuring her that she was doing very well and had grown so much on stage.
“Being on stage is a very nerve-wracking thing, and being able to go out there and do it, everyone was so encouraging,” Smith-Pounds said. “Everyone is so nice. Every time I came there I didn’t really know anyone, maybe one or two girls from past competitions, but I wasn’t close to anyone. I met so many new friends. Everyone was so welcoming and comforting backstage.
Smith-Pounds is a sophomore at Hedgesville High who has shown a particular passion for others – from her social impact initiative, “Hands healing hearts”, which encourages young people to impact others through their own creative skills, to his unique talent, a monologue on anorexia.
“My talent is not a traditional talent, like dancing or singing,” Smith-Pounds said. “I did a monologue on a subject that was really close to my heart, and it just gave me another opportunity to share things that are important to me.
“(Anorexia) is not something that gets talked about enough, and I wanted to share my thoughts and opinions on it.”
Smith-Pounds thanked everyone who supported her, sending a big thank you to the competition’s executive director, Dawn Rix, and the judges.