"These girls that compete, they all become a sorority," he said "I'll give it until mid-morning [Sunday], all these girls will be friends on Facebook. That's just the way it goes."
The reigning teen queen
One year ago Paige Reid was crowned Miss Littleton Area Outstanding Teen on this very stage. It has been a whirlwind year, she said.
"I've done many, many, many appearances," she said listing parades, car shows, fundraising events and more. Having just graduated from Berlin High School, Reid is looking at another year of firsts as she heads to Southern New Hampshire University for her first year of college.
But that doesn't mean she's done competing, and now she's eligible for the next age category. "I'm probably looking toward a local pageant -- the Miss Berlin/Gorham pageant or the Miss Littleton Area next year. There's also a lot of different ones in the southern part of the state as well. There's a Miss University Pageant too, so there's numerous options."
As long as she can keep it in balance with her schoolwork, she's excited to give it a try. "Education is really big for me, so I want to put my education first and make sure that I have a grip on everything before I start."
She also mentioned the sisterhood amongst the contestants and local title holders. "I have a lot of dresses, but I definitely bought some as I went on," she said. "I borrowed a lot from friends as well. It does get very expensive, but if you have friends that you can borrow dresses from -- or anything you can borrow from friends, I highly recommend it!"
'Smiling! A lot!'
Both Emma Bogardus, Littleton High School, and Julie Downs, Berlin High School, are competitors in the Outstanding Teen category.
"This is my first pageant," said Emma. "I'm extremely excited, but I'm nervous too because I really want it. ... I want to be the face representing my own town."
She said she's been working hard on her tap dance routine for the show. When asked what other preparation she's been doing, she laughs and says, "Smiling! A lot!"
Julie is friends with last year's winner Paige Reid, and said that's where she got the inspiration to put herself out on stage. "It's really great. I love it, working with all the girls, working with Dennis. The show itself is going to be great!"
Each contestant must choose a "platform" issue that she will dedicate a year of service to should she win. Julie has chosen Autism Awareness. "
"As my year of service, I'd like to actually hold nights at different communities and have people who actually have autism come and speak and have them have a greater understanding of what autism is," she said. "Whether or not I win my title, I still want to help out."
A panel of local figures of note make up the judging panel. Five men and women judge the Miss category, while three judges make up the Outstanding Teen panel.
After interviewing the candidates, the judges were full of praise for the young women.
"I think it's nice to see them come out of their shells and see them do something completely new," said Tara Giles. "A lot of the girls are so shy and they're just taking a stab at it like champs!"
"I'm impressed with the quality of the young people who are participating and how they have pushed themselves beyond their comfort levels. We should be very proud of these kids, no matter who wins or how the whole thing turns out," said Sen. Jeff Woodburn. "Exposing yourself to not winning is something that you don't do every day in our education system."
Carrie Gendreau was impressed by the passion the young women had for their platform issues. "They really and truly want to go out and make a difference," she said.
"It was amazing how passionate some of them were about their platform issues," said Christian Peck. "Most of them stemmed from issues in their personal lives and they just really decided to do something about it."
"I don't know how much experience they have with public speaking, but to talk in front of a group of people they don't know and be asked questions on the fly, that was impressive," added Melissa Poore.
More than 100 people filled the Littleton High School auditorium to support their favorite young ladies.
The cheering was especially loud during the live interview portion of the contest. Questions posed to the contestants ranged from gun control to gay adoption, violence in entertainment to peer pressure.
In answer to a question about whether the United States is ready for a female president, Miss contestant Ciara Ferland elicited a huge response with her answer, "I definitely think this country is ready for a female president. Us women are very confident, self-empowered, and ready to show the world what we're all about!"
In answer to a question about whether the United States should be involved in conflicts in the Middle East, eventual Miss winner Brittany Sulham answered, "I believe that the U.S. should stay focused on themselves first before they kind of stick their nose in other people's business, unless they are asked to help."
At the end of the evening came the moment of truth.
First, a People's Choice award was given in each category. Emma Bogardus won in the Outstanding Teen category and Ciara Ferland won in the Miss category.
Last year's winners came onstage to crown their successors.
First up was Outstanding Teen Reagan Murphy, whose platform is LGBT equality. For her talent she performed a dramatic monologue. She will be a senior at Gorham High School next year and is working this summer at Santa's Village. "Gosh I'm so excited!" she gushed after her big win. "I feel delightful!"
The Miss Littleton Area crown went to Brittany Sulham, who recently graduated from Profile High School. Her platform is to stop texting and driving and her talent was a modern dance. She will be attending White Mountain Community College in the fall. "It's fantastic!" she said. "I'm filled with emotions."