Nov. 26 – Prior to this year’s Cullman County Fair competition, Vinemont senior Alexis Sartin had never done pageants. Heidi Armstrong, Miss Cullman County Fair 2022 at West Point, didn’t have it either.
Now, with a little help from the Cullman Lions Club, the pair is taking it to the next level, with each representing Cullman County in separate statewide competitive categories hosted by the Miss Alabama organization in 2023.
“The Beautiful Queen pageant was the first pageant I ever did,” says Sartin. “My mom told me it would teach me a lot of skills — and it has! I’m a bit nervous because I don’t have much experience. But I feel pretty good about it no matter what the result is. It’s going to be a good experience either way, and you’ll learn a lot.”
“Before all of this, if you had told me that I was going to step up and speak in front of a crowd, I would have said no way! repeats Armstrong. “But it definitely helped me get out of my shell more. Any skills you develop, like public speaking, are things I can use for the rest of my life.”
Sartin says she’s already learned a lot about how to assert her ideas with confidence as she prepares for a competitive season, complete with numerous speaking engagements at local and statewide events leading up to next June’s Miss Alabama pageant. “When I have a script to go by, I do really well,” she jokes, “but if I’m just talking about myself, I can definitely improve. That’s why it’s such a great experience to be a part of Miss Alabama.”
Armstrong, along with Good Hope’s Maddie McKenney (who finished the Fair Queen pageant as first alternate), was born just a little too late to qualify for the primary Miss Alabama pageant’s age requirement of 18 years. That means Armstrong will represent the area in the organization’s Outstanding Teen category from March 10-12 next year, while Sartin (the second alternate finisher in this year’s Fair competition) will be Miss Alabama the weekend of June 7 -Competition will drive.
This year marks the first time Cullman County has sent two contestants to the organization’s state-level contests, and — like last year with Miss Alabama contestant Abby Sosa — the local Lions Club is sponsoring Sartin and Armstrong as they embark on a month-long trek -Long road to promoting their platforms (dubbed “Social Impact Initiatives” by Miss Alabama) and spreading their messages and skills to a wider audience.
“They will help me throughout the process,” says Armstrong. “I’m scheduled to speak at a Lions Clubs meeting on December 12 and Alexis will be there. It’s a great opportunity for both of us, and I’m very grateful for it…I wanted to do the Fair Queen Pageant because I thought it was cool – but I had no idea it was going to lead to it!”