The 2018 Greater Alliance Carnation Festival queen contestants met the festival board members on July 11 at the Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce.

Each year, the contestants introduce themselves to the board before meeting with members of Alliance Toastmasters.

Sue Grove, chairwoman of the festival board, also introduced Alecia Vlaiku, the 2017 Greater Alliance Carnation Festival first attendant, and Jessie Baylor, the 2017 Miss Congeniality, who led the contestants into the board room.

"This is an event that gives (the contestants) an opportunity to learn how to be more confident in their speaking because they’re going to have an interview with judges," Grove said. "The event can be very helpful as it will help the contestants to come out of the shyness."

Contestant Jena Bennett, who is sponsored by Amy’s Hair Design, said she hoped the event will better her chances in the competition.

"This event can help me during the interview process, because I’m not very good at interviews," Bennett said. "In fact, this event can help me to get over my fear of talking."

Fifteen contestants introduced themselves by stating their name, contestant number and sponsor. Following the introductions, they got to speak with seven Toastmasters members.

"Toastmasters will help you to be prepared for the Carnation queen contest," said Doug Price, a club member. "If you’re not familiar with Toastmasters, it is an international organization dedicated to improving public speaking and leadership skills."

He joined members Vivian Pansino, Sam Pansino, Joy Montgomery, Bill Sol, Matt Henson and David Starcher.

"We are here to give you an opportunity to practice the question-answer session that you’re going to be in during the Carnation queen contest," Price said. "What we’re looking to do is to point out what you’re doing well but also what you can improve upon, and that is an important thing."

Pageant Board Member Missy Miller said the session is much like what the girls will confront during the event.

"This is very important because the judges will be scoring them just like they will during the actual pageant," Miller said.

Each of the contestants took a turn sitting in the hot seat, answering Toastmasters’ questions for three minutes. The group graded the contestants on a score card.

The girls were graded in categories of voice, physical, language and effectiveness.

Voice looks at how clearly and loudly the girls speak; physical weighs their appearance and body language; language relates to proper use of grammar; and effectiveness judges whether their message was clear and presented well.

Some questions were serious, while others were more lighthearted.

A favorite among those posed to the ladies: "If you were given $1 million, what would you spend it on?"

Contestant Carolyn Garrison, sponsored by Givens-Grove Insurance, answered: "Honestly, I would save some of it for later in the future life and the other of it I would give to charity to children who need the money."

At the conclusion, the contestants received their score cards and tips for ways to improve their communication skills before the interview and Aug. 5 pageant night.