by Justin Vick

Huntersville, Davidson women in the top-12

Two weeks before her 45th birthday, Mooresville resident Debbie Miller won the Mrs. North Carolina United States Pageant in Newton. Autumn-Skye Boothe, of Davidson, finished as first runner-up  and Candace Farnie, of Huntersville, finished as fourth runner-up in the pageant.

While competing against married women in their early 20s seemed daunting to Miller, she not only captured the crown but also wound up winning the swimsuit portion of the competition.

“It was a really neat achievement for my age,” Miller said. “You can stay in shape. It doesn’t matter what age.”

Miller, whose look is often compared to ESPN reporter Erin Andrews or country singer Carrie Underwood, competed in pageants when she was younger. She took time off during her 20s and 30s to raise a family. With her sons older, she thought the timing was right to get back into the pageant world.

“I think people have in their minds the concept of a beauty pageant being a superficial thing,” Miller said. “It’s an opportunity to have your voice heard and gives you a microphone to get across points and interests. It encourages women to go forward and achieve their goals.”

In the Mrs. North Carolina United States Pageant, the interview accounts for 50 percent of the score, followed by 25 percent for the swimsuit, 25 percent for the evening gown and 10 percent for the onstage question portions.

“There is almost a sweet light that shines from her,” said Marietta Burke, director of the Mrs. North Carolina United States Pageant. “Her interactions are very warm and honest.”

Miller has already made her first appearance as Mrs. North Carolina United States at the Heart Smarts Family Fun Event in Charlotte. Proceeds from the June 11 event went toward Miller’s platform, Go Red For Women, which advocates the prevention of heart disease in women.

Both her parents have had bypass surgeries. Her father had a heart attack over the holidays.

“With heart disease being so genetic and the number one killer in women, bar none, I need to be concerned with and get the message out to women to be up on your facts,” Miller said.

Miller has lived in Mooresville since 1992. She and her husband, Shannon, own and operate Lake Norman Dredging and have three sons: Jordan, 21; Dylan, 16; and Chase, 11.

Pageantry is very foreign to her husband and three boys, Miller said, but they have been very supportive and are excited about the trip to Las Vegas, where she will compete July 31 to Aug. 5 in the Mrs. United States Pageant.

2012 pageant seeks contestants

The Mrs. North Carolina United States Pageant is looking for women to compete in next year’s event, scheduled for June 2, 2012, in Newton.

In her third year as pageant director, Marietta Burke said she strives to ensure the pageant lives up to its billing – “the premier pageant for married women.”

Contestants received prizes and the day before the pageant, the women went on a spa day to relax, followed by a semi-formal dinner for them and their husbands.