On Nov. 10, Jessica Hensley, Miss Tree City 2012, will compete in the Indiana State Festival Pageant.
In a phone interview Wednesday night, Hensley described the pageant as a state-level contest wherein other regional and local pageant winners from around Indiana compete for the Indiana State Festival Pageant crown.
“There are about 20 contestants that compete in this,” Hensley explained. “It’s one of the many events I’m expected to participate in as Miss Tree City; I’m honored to do it.”
According to Hensley, the Festival Pageant consists of five components: A pre-pageant interview with three different judges; a ball gown portion; a winter-themed dance portion; a single, random question; and a "Festival Spirit" portion.
“The judges’ interview is the most important, most heavily weighted part of the overall pageant,” Hensley said. “But the Festival Spirit part is the most exciting — and the most nerve wracking.”
For the pageant’s Festival Spirit portion, Hensley was required to design and create a customized tee-shirt that represents the unique essence, spirit and character of the Tree City Fall Festival.
“It’s the same for all the girls,” Hensley said. “We’ve all won pageants unique to our regions or towns or cities, and the Festival Spirit competition allows us to show how the places we live are unique and special. I’d like to thank Brooke Riedeman for helping me design my shirt.”
Hensley is also required to carry an item during the Festival Spirit competition that “represents the Tree City Fall Festival.” That requirement proved a little more difficult.
“My mom and I thought long and hard about what I should carry, but we just couldn’t come up with anything,” Hensley said. “We were stumped.”
Hensley and her mother turned to the Decatur County Tourism Department and Tourism Director, Melanie Maxwell, for help.
Maxwell didn’t have any immediate ideas, but she knew where to send Hensley for help.
“I put her in touch with Honda,” Maxwell said, “They’re an important part of this community, and they build cars here that aren’t produced anywhere else in the world.”
Unfortunately, due to time constraints, Honda was unable to offer a suitable Festival Pageant item for Hensley to carry.
In a brief phone call Thursday afternoon, Hensley’s mother, Patty, told the Daily News she’s disappointed by the news from Honda, but that the company has vowed to support her daughter in a future Miss Tree City-related event.
“We’re quite satisfied with that,” Patty Hensley said. “Jessica will be Miss Tree City through next September, so there’s plenty of events left. We know Honda will come through for us next time.”
In the meantime, the problem of what Hensley will carry in the Festival Pageant remained.
Patty Hensley next called The Decatur County Historical Society, and they’ve agreed to allow Hensley to borrow a tapestry of Downtown Greensburg to carry in the pageant.
At the Daily News offices on Thursday afternoon, Hensley expressed gratitude to the Historical Society.
“It’s extremely kind of them,” she said, “to lend me their tapestry and help me represent Greensburg as well as I can. I’m so thankful they’ve stepped up and volunteered to take care of it for me.”
Hensley leaves for the Festival Pageant Friday and will participate in a meet-and-greet session that day where she’ll meet other contestants and their families.
“I’m really excited about Friday,” she said. “I don’t know any of the other girls, and I’m very much looking forward to meeting them.”
Hensely’s entire family — mom, dad, two brothers and one sister — will join her on Saturday for the pageant and the banquet held beforehand.
The pageant itself starts at 7:30 p.m., but Hensley’s day will begin at 8 a.m. that morning.
She’d love to see other Decatur Countians watch her compete, but isn’t sure if there’ll be many — if any.
“It’s an honor to represent Greensburg,” she said. “And I would be so grateful to anyone who came out to see and help me represent Greensburg Saturday night. It’ll be great fun; plus, it would be a great outing for a family weekend together.”
According to the Indiana State Festival Pageant’s website (www.indianafestivals.org/convention/pageant), admission to the pageant is $10, while the price for the pre-pageant dinner and the pageant is $40.
The event itself will be held at the Wyndham West Hotel in Indianapolis, located at 2544 Executive Drive; for room reservations, call 317-248-2481.
For more information on the Indiana State Festival Pageant, visit www.indianafestivals.org/convention/pageant.
Contact: Rob Cox at 812-663-3111 x7011.