How to Plan a Beauty Pageant

by Lisa Mooney ; Updated September 26, 2017
Girl on stage at beauty pageant

Beauty pageants never go out of style. Though many are now referred to as "scholarship pageants" or "talent showcases" to avoid the suggestion of contestants being judged on prettiness alone, pageants remain a popular event, primarily among young girls. For those wishing to organize and manage their own pageants, there is much to learn. You must obtain licensing in your state, decide where and when to hold it, detail the activities in your pageant and market it to potential participants and sponsors. To be successful, you must be detail-oriented and willing to put in long hours leading up to and during the event.

Check licensing needs for your state. Many areas demand you meet particular requirements to obtain a license to operate. For example, the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration demands you be registered as a beauty pageant operator in Arkansas.

Calculate the budget for your beauty pageant. You will probably want to create a business plan that will allow you to judge how much you will need and how to obtain funding. You might need money for renting a venue, hiring judges, marketing, decorations and prizes. While you will depend on entry fees to cover expenses and make a profit, you will need funds up front. Obtain sponsors to supply prizes such as scholarships for your winners. Front the initial money yourself, garner investors and consider business loans to finance your project.

Rent a venue and put the date on your calendar. Give yourself at least two months in advance to complete your planning and marketing. Consider community centers, hotel ballrooms or large church banquet halls as possibilities for your event. Schedule your pageant on a weekend day, preferably a Saturday, for the best turnout.

Determine how many contestants you can handle and what age groups you will offer. Child pageants are very common, as are those for teens. You could also decide to hold a "Mrs." beauty pageant for married contestants.

Choose a theme for your event. You can base it on a season -- an "Autumn Apple Pageant," for example -- or a fun activity, such as "Rock Stars Diva Pageant." Encourage contestants to utilize the theme in clothing and talent presentations.

Identify categories in which your participants will be judged. For example, you can have formal dress, sportswear and talent, and include a live interview as part of the contest. Decide how many participants per age category you will allow.

Recruit judges -- leaders in the community, former beauty pageant winners, models, photographers or local celebrities -- to score contestants in each category. Secure additional staff, including a few people for set-up and clean-up as well as someone to handle the sign-in area for contestants and the announcing duties.

Set your entry fees for participants. Some pageants charge as little as $10.00, but the fee may be as much as $100 or more. Determine what other local pageants of comparable size and prizes have charged to get an idea of what your fee should be.

Market your pageant through local news outlets, direct mailings, flyers and the Internet. Ask administrators of local schools to make materials to available to students. The more people that learn of your event, the more likely you will be able to fill your available spots.

Prepare the venue for the day of the beauty pageant. Build your stage and decorate the area according to your theme. Set up folding chairs for your audience.


  • Be sure to highlight the positive attributes of pageant participation when promoting your event. Pageant expert and personal development coach Rhonda Shappert says pageantry helps contestants develop confidence and learn to deal with stress, and sharpens communications skills.

    Ensure you have an area in which contestants can change clothes, apply make-up and style hair.

    Consider charging a fee for individuals wishing to view the pageant. You can collect these at the door.

About the Author

Lisa Mooney has been a professional writer for more than 18 years. She has worked with various clients including many Fortune 500 companies such as Pinkerton Inc. She has written for many publications including Woman's World, Boy's Life and Dark Horizons. Mooney holds bachelor's degrees in both English and biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Photo Credits

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