July has been a big month for Parachute's Haydon Metcalf.
First, she won the title of National American Miss Colorado Junior Teen. Second, she celebrated her 16th birthday this week.
An incoming junior at Grand Valley High School, Metcalf has been involved in pageants for five years, competing in five state-level competitions and four national pageants through the National American Miss pageant system.
"Haydon was referred by someone (much to my dismay) when she was in about third or fourth grade," said Lori Metcalf, Haydon's mother, in an email. "I would try to just hide the 'junk mail' in the trash but she usually managed to find it and would beg me to let her do it. All I could envision is Jon Benet Ramsey, so my answer was always a resounding 'no!' She finally was able to talk me into it after one of her friends participated and had a good experience."
After overcoming her own misconceptions about the pageant world, Lori Metcalf is happy with her daughter's experiences.
"She has already learned poise, patience, people skills, and how to lose gracefully so I can only hope she will continue to grow and mature as she experiences new things over the next few years," Lori Metcalf said. "There have been only benefits from Haydon's experience with this pageant system. She has no issue getting up to speak in front of a crowd and she will kick butt when she has her first job interview!"
Haydon appreciates what she has learned, as well as some of the other benefits.
"My favorite part is how much more confidence I've gained in public speaking and interview skills," she said in an email. "Wearing the beautiful gowns isn't too bad either! If I had to choose my least favorite part it would be saying good-bye to my friends at the end of pageant week."
Like her mother, Haydon has had to address preconceived ideas about pageants from shows like "Toddlers and Tiaras."
"It isn't at all a true depiction of what National American Miss is like, but a lot of people assume it is," she said.
Lori Metcalf is also quick to point out the differences between what people have seen on TV and what really takes place in the pageant system they are involved in
"There is no makeup until the junior teen division (14-15) and it must be age appropriate even then," Lori wrote. "Love that! There are no crazy hair or makeup or even outfits in the National American Miss Pageant. It's really sort of all-American girls they are usually looking for."
Pageant contests are judged on formal wear (30 percent), personal introduction (30 percent), interview (30 percent) and community involvement (10 percent.) Contestants can also enter optional competitions at the pageants.
This year, Haydon won all optional competitions she entered: actress, casual wear and photogenic. Each one earned her a $250 cash prize.
"Winning 'most promising model' in both casual wear and photogenic netted her a $1,000 scholarship to Barbizon as well," said Lori.
That's in addition to the prizes for winning the state title: $1,000 cash, a $500 scholarship to Barbizon, paid entry to nationals (a $795 value), two tickets to Disneyland, a Hollywood tour, the Thanksgiving Day banquet, and $350 cash to cover airfare/travel to and from nationals in Anaheim, Calif.
In addition to preparing for nationals, which involves rehearsing and working with a pageant coach, Haydon keeps busy "drawing, singing, dancing and hanging out with my family and friends."
Haydon has an older sister and a younger brother. Residents of Parachute since 1995, Haydon's parents, Jason and Lori, own and operate Metcalf Excavating in Parachute, with Jason's brother and wife.
At Grand Valley High School, Haydon is a varsity cheerleader and plays basketball and soccer, and will be the student body spirit chair for the coming year, as well as a member of Key Club and drama club.
While she's focused on nationals, and ready to put in the time and effort it will take to win, Haydon is, perhaps, equally excited about spending the day at Disneyland with her fellow contestants.
"It's a blast!" Haydon said. "We have a day at Disneyland and all of us wear our crowns and banners. What better place for a bunch of queens?"