Miss Clemson now the clear favorite

otaylor@thestate.comJuly 13, 2012 

The preliminaries of the Miss South Carolina Pageant ended Thursday night, and Miss Clemson Cynthia Leighann Bagwell left the Township Auditorium as the favorite to be crowned the new Miss South Carolina on Saturday night. For the second consecutive night, Bagwell won a preliminary. It was swimsuit Wednesday and on Thursday she took home talent for her clogging routine. She is the only double preliminary winner this year.

Miss Laurens County Ali Rogers won Thursday night’s swimsuit prelim. In the Miss South Carolina Teen competition, Greater Greer Teen Sydney Sill won evening wear and Easley Teen Allison Hale won talent for her moving guitar and vocal performance.

Here’s a recap of some of the night’s memorable moments.

STAGING: The pageant, in its second year in Columbia, has made several changes to the program from year one to two. A significant one is on display nightly: the stage. The pageant essentially erected a floor on top of the Township’s existing stage. The new floor, which has taken a beating from all the clogging and tapping, is white. It’s a wonderful touch that makes the contestants stand out even more. Thank Ashley Byrd for that. “It’s to keep it modern,” Miss S.C.’s president and executive director said. The LED screens have also modernized the look of the pageant.

HONORABLE GUESTS: South Carolina native Nikky Finney, who won the 2011 National Book Award for the poetry book “Head Off & Split,” was at the pageant Thursday night. Her niece is Greater Irmo Teen Felicia Finney. The Finney contingent included Ernest Finney, the retired chief justice of the S.C. Supreme Court. He’s Nikky’s father and Felicia’s grandfather. The elder Finney served in the S.C. House of Representatives and was the first African-American appointed to the Judiciary Committee and the state’s first African-American circuit court judge.

KRISTIE KREME: Kristie Greene Lee, Miss South Carolina 1994, had the crowd eating out of her hands – and shopping at Krispy Kreme. Apparently her detailed directions that accompanied her doughnut delivery to the judges Wednesday night made people want the glazed treat, too. According to Lee, the Knox Abbott store did a lot of business after Wednesday’s show. For her second act of the evening, she demonstrated how to work out for the crowd. But she got her exercise sitting on a rocking chair on stage. What will she do next?

PIANO JAZZ: Pageant host Jane Jenkins Herlong’s best jokes were mini stories with perfectly-timed punch lines. They landed right when the piano the contestants were using was rolled onto -or off- the stage by stage hands.

BEST INTRO: Lyman Teen Natalie Southgate holds on to the first syllable of Lyman like she is Tony the Tiger. She’s from Lyyyyyyyy-man. It’s catchy.

BEST ENDING: At the end of her dance routine and with her hands on her hips, Capital City Teen Lindsey Victoria Twaddell blew a Shirley Temple-cute kiss to the crowd. Very stylish.

Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.

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