The Golden Empire, in the spirit of a kingdom, has royalty. The 2022 Bakersfield Teen, Miss and Mrs. Bakersfield Pageant
orientation is just around the corner, and the girls they're looking for, the pageant's executive director, Gayle Tape said don't need to fit a certain mold.
“I don’t want the stigma, of you know, you ride in a parade, you put a crown on, and you just wave and have everybody give you attention,” Tape said. “I want to find the ones that are willing to serve food in the homeless shelter, or someone that mentors young women.”
Being Bakersfield royalty fits the title: Tape said it’s all about the town tied to sash the Teen, Miss and Mrs. Bakersfield wear. It’s embedded in the organization’s identity as a community-based pageant, rather than a franchise that competes at other levels.
“To be the ambassador of a whole city, the city of Bakersfield, I think it’s an opportunity a lot of women should take advantage of. It’s an opportunity to grow as a person, in many way,” title holder and pageant committee member, Alissa Carlson said. “It’s not necessarily about outward appearance, it’s also about what’s inside.”
Carlson was crowned Mrs. Bakersfield five years ago, but to this day, it’s been a life changing experience for her.
“This is an opportunity for everyone to better themselves, putting yourself out there in a different way. It may be uncomfortable, but sometimes you have to do that to grow,” Carlson said. “Pageantry, it’s a lot of work, and a lot of work to learn who you are and what you stand for.”
Besides needing to live, attend school or work in Bakersfield, the outreach program, which has been around for 27 years, is not seeking women with a certain look or background.
“I’ll have girls come up to me and say, ‘well I’m a jock,’ I play soccer, [or] I play volleyball.’ I love it,” Tape said. “I have three kids I’ve raised that are jocks, and I coached baseball. So I really want someone who isn’t a ‘pageant girl,’ to come see me, and I would challenge them to live up to their potential.”
Tape added that she doesn’t want money to stop local women from reaching that full potential.
“Our [pageant] is affordable. It’s not a money grab, it’s a $275 entry fee,” Tape said. “And they don’t have to go and buy all the stuff. We try to help them borrow dresses and they get the coaching from me for free.”
The orientation for the 2022 pageant kicks off Tuesday at Stockdale Country Club. That's where contestants can speak to the pageant committee and participants years' past. Prospective contestant’s parents and friends can come as well. If they're interested in competing, applications will be at the ready.