The forgotten ones, behind the scenes

Melissa Cron with Zoey Doll-Minford

Sommer Enz working with Gracie Blankenship-Wheelersburg

Lana Long with Savannah Moore-Clay

The 2017 River Days Queen contestants from each school have been working for months to prepare to win the title ‘Labor Day weekend,’ while each girl has been working on her float, and preparing for the pageant and hoping for the big win.

However, all this would not be possible without the help of each girl’s pageant mom. A pageant mom is sometime overlooked when thinking about River Days and the upcoming parade and pageant.

A pageant mom starts her work, the same time each girl has been chosen to represent their school. Pageant moms have to attend all meetings just like their girls do. They are also meeting with the girls weekly, more than one day a week and for more than one hour.

One might ask, why would anyone give up that much time for someone else’s daughter? Three of these pageant moms have put themselves out there and given the answer to why they do just that.

Lana Long is a first time pageant mom. Sommer Enz is a pageant mom, who had done this before and took time out for her own children and has returned this year. Then there is Melissa Cron, the veteran mom for the River Day’s candidates.

Even though all three could attest to the many hours of work and time they have had to give up, they would surely do it again. There must be something more than just being the mom character, it seems to give back to those involved, more than it takes away.Time? In hours? All three ladies discussed the amount of time it truly takes to work with their young ladies, and not even one of them could give a specific amount, but it is a tremendous and it is an investment for the pageant moms and their families.

They have to help select the right clothes, perfect their walk, give feedback on interview questions and responses, and how they perform on stage. All this needs to be presented to the girls carefully, because critiquing can hurt feelings, if not given in a way that is helpful and not upsetting the girls, who have so much that they are required to do, making it stressful for all. And yet, they all say, that they wish they had more time with their girls.

When Enz was a pageant previous mom, they did not have the service portion for the girls. The moms said that this was one of the favorite things they like that the girls do now.

Long’s young lady, Miss Clay, Savannah Moore, did her service on Human Trafficking.

“It was really powerful, having a daughter of my own and three grandaughters, I was really moved,” Long said. “The girl that spoke at the event, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

Her young lady, Zoey Doll from Minford, had a community service that will be an annual butterfly run in Minford every year. She feels that River Days has grown over the years because of the community service.

“Community service for the girls is a lot of outreach, that is like the biggest part in the journey for these girls,” Cron said. “A lot of people think of River Days as just a pageant, when it’s not, that’s just the entertainment side of it. The community service is so massive and I feel the girls get so much out of it, more than anything else they do, I’ve actually learned myself about organizations out there in our community, that I wasn’t even aware.”

Long’s young lady is Gracie Blankenship of Wheelersburg.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Gracie this year on her service initiative, Night out for narcolepsy,” Long said.

Both Cron and Enz agreed that the community service and all the things the girls do gives so much back to the girls. Enz says that one of her most favorite parts of being a pageant mom is seeing the transformation in the girls from the beginning to the end.

“I enjoy helping and supporting them discover who they are, what they value, and how to present the best version of themselves,” Enz said.

Cron echoed those sentiments.

“Honestly, it teaches them maturity, responsibility and once it’s time to go away for college, they are ready,” Cron said. “The community service is also a good resume builder. It’s like a gateway for these girls to be able to get future jobs.”

Cron also feels another key goal is to make sure every single second the girl is happy, make sure she’s smiling all the time, and she is beautiful both inside and out. Her goal she said, would be to prep her to conquer any professional interview in her future.

Although Enz hasn’t been a pageant mom for awhile, she has served in River Days in some capacity, since the mid 1990s. She’s performed in the pageant, choreographed, and helped with running things backstage. However, she taken time off as a pageant mom because her daughter, Autumn was wanting to compete in the River Day’s pageant. She thought that she needed to be a mom and her pageant mom and support her. Her daughter ended up winning the title in her division, she felt it was a great experience and viewed the River Days folks as a family. Even in her division, she made some lifelong friends, as she hopes all this year’s girls do also.

Not to be left out, is the person who keeps all of these people together, Lori Lowe.

Lowe is the queen’s chairperson and pageant director. Lowe started with the pageant as a pageant mom in 1993 and became the director in 2001 until 2010 and came back in 2014 at the request of Dr. Angel, president of the Festival in 2014. Lowe works with both the girls and pageant moms from the beginning until the pageant night. She sets up the meetings and the plans for how the girls’ year must go.

This year, watching the parade and pageant, people will just see the final culmination of the River Days Queens’ contestants, but hopefully, not forget all the work that prepared these young ladies for their chance of a lifetime.

Reach Kimberly Jenkins 740-353-3101 ext.1928