Vignette Club hosts Miss Shelby County Pageant

By SASHA JOHNS / Community Columnist

“Building friendships to help communities.” That’s the mission of Columbiana’s Vignette Club, a women’s club that has spent 70 years doing just that.

One of the ways they accomplish this mission is by hosting the annual Miss Shelby County Pageant.

The Vignettes began the pageant, one that feeds into the Miss Alabama and Miss America pageant, in 1987. This event is no small undertaking.

Pageant director Pam Oliver poses with Miss Shelby County contestants. (Contributed)

The Vignette members work tirelessly to secure the sponsors that not only make the pageant possible, but also provide life-changing scholarships for the women that participate.

Furthermore, ticket sales from the event benefit other needs in the county.

Past projects have benefitted Owens House, local schools, SafeHouse and more.

The prizes on the line for participants are no small thing.

Winners of the Miss Shelby County pageant receive over $4,000 in cash and gifts, a full ride to the University of Montevallo, and a two-year scholarship to Jeff State.

The Miss Teen Shelby County winner receives $500 from the University of Montevallo.

This pageant has turned out more than one Miss Alabama winner over the years, the most recent winner being Hayley Barber in 2016.

The pageant has also produced one Miss America winner, Deidra Downs Gunn, in 2005.

The pageant is open to any qualifying woman in the state. They need not be a resident of Shelby County to participate.

Longstanding Vignette member Pam Oliver directs the pageant each year and has a special connection to the contestants.

“These girls have become like the daughter I have never had,” she said. “I so love watching them grow into smart young women.”

The Vignettes all seem to take that same sentiment as they work to provide the potential winners with all they need to succeed leading up to the week of the event.

Vignette member Jennifer Long works with the Rising Stars, girls ages 7-11 years old that hope to be in the Teen and Miss pageants one day.

They are paired with pageant participants who become mentors, and often these relationships last for years.

Long said one of her girls, Emileigh Jo, was able to attend the Teen state pageant this year. “She loved the experience,” she said. “The girls that compete for Miss Alabama Outstanding Teen and Miss Alabama are so driven, smart and sweet. It’s great for the girls to see these attributes in girls that are role models for them.”

Potential participants must be registered for this year’s pageant no later than July 13.

All forms and rules as well as information about each pageant and the Rising Stars can be found on the Miss Shelby County website at Missshelbycounty.com.

Each participant must choose a platform that betters their community, and they will be judged on their talent performance, stage interview, evening gown, and a longer off-stage interview with the judges.