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Beauty queen uses crown to battle bullying

Manuel said contestants who are serious about continuing in beauty pageants should find something to be passionate about.

"You need to be passionate about something because as a title holder you definitely do a lot of volunteer service," said Manuel. "You can't just stand there and say 'I got this, I don't need to do anything more with it.' A lot of people start listening once you get it."

Pageant Director Michele Zavadil said she makes sure the Saratoga County Beauty Pageant doesn't focus too much on the beauty side of things.

"Although it's labeled a beauty pageant, my purpose is to give the girls the experiene of being on stage, presenting themselves publically, speaking to an audience," said Zavadil. "I try to make it a very positive experience. I don't focus on the traditional beauty pageant element."

Through the years, Manuel had to dispel the stereotypes and stigma that some people attach to beauty pageants and beauty queens. It was an additional mission she was happy to tackle.

"When I first started my friends didn't really agree with it because of the stereotype that goes with pageantry; that all beauty queens are ditzy, don't have a brain, don't have opinions on anything and just want to go up there and have cakey make up on and fake eyelashes," said Manuel. "Once I started doing stuff with my titles like going out and creating my website and talking to teenagers my age, my friends really appreciated what I did and they think it's great."

Manuel said once she ages out of the Miss America Outstanding Teen program at 17, Miss America is in her future.

"I think I could further implement my campaign with that system when I'm older," said Manuel.

The Saratoga County Fair Pageant will be held Tuesday, July 19, at 4 p.m. in the Talent Pavilion near Gate One. There are 10 divisions and available titles are Miss Saratoga County Fair Queen, Little Miss, Sweetheart, Princess, Young Miss and Honor Queen.

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