GREENFIELD — As captain of the varsity cheerleading squad, a cadet firefighter, participant in National Honor Society and community volunteer, Allie Dickmann didn’t have much spare time to prepare for the Riley Festival queen pageant.
But that didn’t stop her from taking the crown.
As Dickmann, 17, accepted congratulations from fellow pageant contestants and posed for pictures with her shiny new tiara Sunday night, Leslie Dickmann said her daughter has always managed to find room in her schedule to do anything she sets her mind to.
“Allie’s a very determined girl,” her mother said. “Knows what she wants.”
And that meant having the basics down pat, including a sparkling black dress and the modeling skills to show it off.
“She’d go in the kitchen, do her little steps,” her younger sister, Ava, 13, said.
Dickmann, who is a senior at Greenfield-Central High School, was one of 14 to vie for the title of the 2012 Riley Festival queen. Sharing her spotlight are princess (first runner-up) Hallie Wright and court members Katie Wietbrock, Elizabeth Fields and Haley Reifel. Reifel was also voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow contestants and won an award for her personal-choice outfit, a U.S. Navy nurse uniform, reflecting a future career goal.
Preparation for the pageant began long before Sunday, with contestants attending workshops covering everything from modeling to makeup to help them look their best on stage.
One special guest, a representative from Angie’s List, gave the girls interview tips.
Life skills have always been a key part of the Riley pageant experience, master of cermonies Kevin Cole said Sunday.
“The pageant committee hopes that each contestant leaves the pageant with heightened self-confidence,” Cole said.
The pageant focused not only on where contestants have been but where they are headed. After the opening number to introduce the girls, audience members watched a slideshow of the contestants’ baby photos, followed by each contestant completing the phrase, “Someday I hope to…”
Answers ranged from the comical – “ride a giraffe,” Hannah Taphorn said – to the serious – “own my own therapeutic riding center,” Brittany Pannell told the judges.
Contestants’ poise was also tested with an onstage question. Each of the top eight contestants drew a get-to-know-you question to answer for the judges, including subjects ranging from their favorite musician to must-visit vacation spots.
Dickmann drew a question about her favorite class in school. She enjoys English, telling the judges, “We get to write and read and really express ourselves.”
Later in the contest, a second question touched on topics of increasing difficulty, such as the biggest challenge facing teens today or the most important reason a person should vote.
Asked the one possession she’d bring with her on a deserted island, Dickmann answered, “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” her favorite novel.
This year’s pageant, held in the Greenfield-Central High School auditorium, was more sparsely attended than in years past, due in part to fewer contestants, organizers said. Last year’s contest featured 22 girls vying for queen.
Christa Pike, queen contest chair, said the decrease in participation is likely caused by this year’s Riley Festival conflicting with New Palestine High School’s homecoming on Oct. 5.
The queen and her court are expected to attend a variety of events, some of which might coincide with New Pal’s football game and surrounding activities.
Pike said next year, the Riley Festival committee will work more closely with area schools ahead of time to make sure the calendars don’t overlap.
“We will do more due diligence to make sure that we don’t have major schedule conflicts,” she said.
Dickmann and her court will reign over the 2012 Riley Festival, which will be held in downtown Greenfield Oct. 4-7. For a full schedule of events, visit www.rileyfestival.com.