Township resident earns third place in state beauty contest
A North Huntingdon woman was named second runner-up in the 2013 Miss Pennsylvania USA pageant last weekend.
It was the first time Billie Jo Powers, 25, competed in the statewide competition, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh, near Pittsburgh International Airport, on Saturday and Sunday.
Powers competed against approximately 50 women.
“I've been interested in doing this pageant for years,” she said.
“I've done a lot of modeling and competed in similar competitions but wanted to stay local, so I thought this would be perfect.
“I feel very blessed to do as well as I did at my first pageant.”
Jessica Billings of Bloomington was named Miss Pennsylvania USA, followed by first runner-up Laura DiFrancesco of West Chester.
Powers also received the title of Miss Photogenic, which was chosen by the pageant photographers and staff.
The pageant began last Friday for Powers as she went through preliminary events, including an interview and preparation for the opening number at the pageant.
On Saturday, judges narrowed the contestants down to 15 and then named the top five Sunday, she said.
Powers' mother, Peggy Powers, accompanied her daughter to the pageant.
Although Peggy Powers wasn't competing, she said she felt like a celebrity during the event.
“People would stop me with signs or buttons supporting Billie Jo,” Peggy said. “I couldn't believe how many people were there to support her.”
Although she was second runner-up, Powers said, the biggest thrill of the pageant was being able to represent the Down Syndrome Association of Pittsburgh and the American Red Cross.
“I really wanted to focus on Miss Pennsylvania because they really focus on doing a lot of charity and volunteer work,” she said. “That's really important to me.”
The support of her friends and family was also overwhelming, Powers said.
Powers began modeling and competing in swimsuit pageants when she was 18 years old.
Powers has won several competitions, as well. Her most recent win was last month, when she was named Miss Beverly Hills in the Tropic Beauty Finals, held in Beverly Hills.
She plans to compete at the Tropic Beauty World Finals in Las Vegas in February.
“I'm really excited for 2013, now that I have a grasp on doing Miss Pennsylvania and all these different events,” Powers said.
“Now, I have a good feel for what direction I'd like to go, and I want to do as much as I can, and possibly go back for Miss Pennsylvania.”
Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8626, or firstname.lastname@example.org.