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Her Eyes Are on the Crown

The thought of being on stage in a shimmering evening gown may make some women nervous. For Kristi-Starr Smith of Darien, it’s where she wants to be. “I get a little nervous and shaky.  You see thousands and thousands of people looking at you. It’s scary, but it’s a really good feeling,” she says.

Smith will be in the spotlight again this weekend as an in the Miss Connecticut USA Pageant at the Hotel Marriott in Farmington. The 23-year-old Darien High School alum, who works part time at the New Canaan Animal Control shelter, has participated in eight pageants since she was a child, partly on the advice of her mother, Karen P. Smith, clerk of the New Canaan Probate Court. Smith finished as the runner-up in the Miss Teen Connecticut pageant four years ago. “I just fell in love with it,” she said.

For Smith, who is also a member of the Darien Fire Department, the toughest part is preparing for the show, including practicing the opening routine. “You have to remember everything. I’m more nervous [for practice] than when the pageant is going on.”

While some might knock pageants and say they harm the self-esteem of women and girls, Smith thinks otherwise. “I feel like pageants are a good morale booster,” she said. “You can meet other girls and it’s really fun. It’s a good experience.”

The pageant veteran adds that contestants are usually friendly with one another, even though they’re all competing for a crown, prize money and gifts. “You just help each other out,” she said. “It’s just not mean. It’s not like they’re saying, ‘I’m not going to help you because I want to win.’ ”

Should Smith take the Miss Connecticut USA title, she will represent Connecticut in the Miss USA Pageant in the  spring. The last three Miss USA pageants were held in Las Vegas. The winner receives scholarship money and other prizes.

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