NEW ULM - Nine-year old Haley Simonson, daughter of Jim and Mary Simonson of Springfield, won the title of 2011 National American Miss Minnesota at the two-day pageant held last weekend in St. Paul.
A future fifth-grader, she attends Springfield Public Elementary School.
"I was surprised that I won," said Simonson, "It's the first pageant I've ever been in."
Haley Simonson of Springfield won the title of 2011 National American Miss Minnesota at the two-day pageant held last weekend in St. Paul.
Fifty-three girls competed in her group - junior pre-teen division (ages seven through nine).
During Thanksgiving week, she will be attending the National Pageant in Anaheim, Calif., at Disneyland. Simonson will represent Minnesota. She has an opportunity to win her share of more than $500,000 in cash and various prizes.
"I'm excited to go," said Simonson.
Simonson's favorite activities include playing softball, and basketball and singing in St. Raphael's children's choir.
Her sponsors for the pageant were family and friends as well as local businesses.
"We just think it's an honor that she is going to represent the State of Minnesota," said Mary Simonson, her mother, "We're very proud of her."
Haley needed to raise $450 to participate in the pageant.
Mary said they were very surprised that Haley won.
"We just wanted her to go and have fun ...to help her with her shyness," said Simonson, "Coming from a small town, we just never thought anything like this would ever happen."
There were many friendly, helpful people and people at the pageant got along well, said Mary.
For the competition this fall, Simonson must raise some money for a new dress.
For winning the queen title she received $1,000. She also did some casual wear modeling for which she received $250. She won $350 for a ticket to California.
Simonson also received a "Spirit Award" during the competition.
Every year the National American Miss Pageants awards $1.5 million in cash, scholarships and prizes that recognize and also assist in the development of young women throughout the nation.
Each girl qualifying for the national pageant has a chance to win a new 2011 Ford Mustang convertible.
Pageants are held in each state for girls ages four to 18 in five different age divisions. The program for the pageant is based on inner beauty, in addition to poise, presentation and offers and "All American Spirit" of fun for family and friends.
Emphasis is placed on the importance of gaining self-confidence, learning new skills, learning good attitudes about competition and setting and achieving personal goals of the girls.
"The first day when I got on the stage I was pretty nervous," said Simonson, "But the second day I got on the stage I was more comfortable."