Student crowned Miss Alachua County


Lindsey Bolender holds her crown after she was declared Miss Alachua County USA 2009 during the Miss Alachua County USA 2009, and Miss Marion County USA 2009 and Teen pageant at the Oak Hall School theater on Saturday.

CHARLES ROOP/Special to The Sun
Published: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 12:08 a.m.

Lindsey Bolender talked of having her own show on the Food Network that would be geared toward college students. Brookell Barber spoke of becoming a plastic surgeon one day, to help those with physical deformities.

"I've always believed that beauty within is more important than beauty without," Barber said.

Their answers to questions impressed judges enough that Bolender was crowned Miss Alachua County USA 2009 on Saturday at Oak Hall School in Gainesville, while Barber was crowned winner of the teen division.

"I love my sister queens, and I'm just really happy," Bolender, a student at Santa Fe Community College, said after being crowned as winner in the competition that featured 16 girls and young women ages 13 to 26.

To prepare for the competition, Bolender said she ate healthier food, exercised and practiced her walking.

"Those shoes are hard to walk in," she said.

The pageant was an official preliminary to the Miss Florida USA competition. Saturday's pageant, which also crowned Miss Marion County USA, consisted of an on-stage personality interview, swimsuit and evening gown competitions. Each was worth a third of the contestant's score.

During the personality portion, contestants recited a 30- to 60-second speech about themselves and then answered one question.

"We were looking for someone who was comfortable with herself, confident and excited to have a chance to win the title," said Rikki Klaus, a UF senior and one of five judges.

The winners' duties will include attending local community, business and charity events. The winners' prizes include paid entry fees to compete in the state competition, acting classes, personalized fitness training, the official crown, a trophy and a cosmetic consultation.

"I had to spend a lot of money to get nice dresses and shoes," said Olivia Costa, one contestant. "But I would do it again."

"Participating gave me a new perspective on pageant girls," Costa said. "They were a lot less stuck up than I expected. I met some really nice people."

Contestants' family members in the audience came with signs and posters. One contestant's family had her face put on several wooden stakes, and they waved them in support.

The pageant was hosted by former winners, and previous Miss Teen Marion County USA Jaclyn Raulerson sang just before awards were given out.

The Miss North Central Florida USA and Miss Gainesville USA pageants will be held April 19 at the same venue. For information on how to become a contestant, call 352-284-8688.

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