(ran PAS edition)
The pageant was over, the crowd thinning. Cameras had stopped flashing and music had ceased.
But Amanda Bourassa still trembled.
"I don't know what to think," the new Miss Land O'Lakes said Oct. 25. "I felt like I was in a dream when all the girls were hugging me."
Amanda, a 17-year-old from Tampa, is a senior at Gaither High School. She works part time at an animal clinic and wants to study equine medicine in college.
"She's a little cowgirl," said Mary Bourassa, Amanda's mom. Mrs. Bourassa and husband Bob rushed to congratulate their daughter and helped her with her trophy as she stepped from the stage.
Amanda reflected her love of animals during the pageant's casual wear segment, during which she wore dark blue jeans and a white cowboy hat. For the final event, the evening wear competition, she wore a long, shimmery white dress.
As one of her first duties as Miss Land O'Lakes, Amanda will attend the upcoming Flapjack Festival. She said she's looking forward to it.
Amanda entered the pageant after her friends Stephanie Roberson and Summer Keene did. Stephanie won Miss Photogenic and was first runner-up.
Jillian Bradley was second runner-up and one of two contestants who tied as Miss Congeniality. Tara Black also was sashed Miss Congeniality.
Amanda's parents beamed as their daughter posed for photos after winning.
"She deserved it, she worked hard," Mrs. Bourassa said "She wanted to stay busy her senior year."
Once the pageant was over, Amanda had more immediate goals.
"I'm starving," she told her parents. "I haven't eaten."
There was a reception after the pageant, which was held at the Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex.
The evening started with a musical tour through the decades, focusing on women and pop culture over the years. Groups of contestants danced to jitterbug, sock-hop and disco music. One group sang Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy as 3-year-old Tyler Dusek, recently crowned Little Mr. Flapjack, played the part of the bugle boy from Company B.
Between competitions, entertainers Krista McGee and Lori Barnes sang.
"All the girls were fantastic," said organizer Sandra Conover, who attended with a cane by her side. She had broken a toe earlier in the week.
And even though Amanda was crowned Miss Land O'Lakes, none of the girls looked like less than winners. After Amanda took a victory spin down the runway, they all clustered into a group hug.