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Passing of the crown: Miss Draper winners share experiences on stage

Aug 28, 2017 03:08PM ● Published by Jana Klopsch

Sage Nielsen passes the title onto Tabitha Wilson at the Miss Draper Pageant in April. (Tabitha Wilson/courtesy)

Gallery: Miss Draper 2017 [5 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Lexi Peery | l.peery@cityjournals.com

Sage Nielsen passed down her glittering crown to the current Miss Draper, Tabitha Wilson, in April this year, but her time as Miss Draper and on the pageant stage was far from over. In July, Nielsen participated in the statewide Miss Utah competition as the youngest contestant of the year.

“(Competing at Miss Utah) was so crazy because I was the youngest person in the entire pageant, out of 50 contestants from around Utah,” Nielsen said. “I’m just 18. I’m competing against girls who are 24 and graduated from college, and I’m just trying to graduate high school. I was working on top of it at In-N-Out at Draper and trying to graduate, all while preparing for this pageant.”

Besides having to graduate from high school just weeks before the pageant, Nielsen also had to learn a whole new song on the piano as part of her talent competition. She had spent hours perfecting a song on the piano, and after registering for the competition, learned that another contestant was going to play the same song. Starting from scratch a month before the competition, Nielsen composed a song of her own on the piano.

“I asked myself what I was going to do that would be worthy of the Miss Utah stage.” Nielsen said. “I sat down one day and I composed an entire song. It was so crazy but I pulled it off and it was such a fun experience.”

In addition to holding her own as the youngest competitor at Miss Utah, Nielsen worked to serve the community throughout her year as Miss Draper. She advocated self-empowerment, which she defines as “goal setting, loving yourself, having a healthy lifestyle, and positive thinking all the way around.” 

Throughout her tenure as Miss Draper, Nielsen often spoke about her platform with Draper residents of all ages. Seeing the way little girls looked up to her when she had her crown on — which is the same way she looked up to pageant winners — makes her want to continue competing in pageants and inspiring little kids along the way.

As Nielsen leaves Draper to start school at Dixie State University, Nielsen said she’ll miss the strong community and the city-wide activities that are held in her hometown.

“The activities are so fun because they engage the community and the city, and you can meet the mayor and city council members,” Nielsen said. “That just shows they care about us and want us to know we are important. I think it’s important for community members to get together, mingle and meet their leaders who are making the city thrive.”

For Tabitha Wilson, Nielsen’s successor to Miss Draper, the ideal location of Draper is what she loves about the city. Wilson will also be leaving the city to start school at Utah Valley University, but she’s loved growing up by the mountains and participating in all the outdoor activities that come along with living in Draper.

No newcomer to pageants, Wilson competed in many growing up, including the Miss Draper Outstanding Teen competition, before competing for the coveted Miss Draper title. For Wilson, the emphasis on friendship, service and volunteer work is what drew her into pageants. 

Wilson’s platform as Miss Draper is called Michelle Matters, and she has teamed up with Utah Domestic Violence Coalition to educate community members about domestic violence and where to get help.

“The reason I chose (Michelle Matters as my platform) was because one of our close family friends — she was shot and killed along with her son about seven years ago by her husband,” Wilson said. “That’s stuck with me, and a couple years ago I did a Duck Dash for the Dove Center and raised money for them down in St. George. I’m actually hoping to schedule a Duck Dash up here in Draper in October because it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.”

Wilson said she was disappointed about the headlines Draper residents made in opposition to a homeless shelter opening up in the city. Wilson had hoped that there would be resources and a place for women and children who flee abusive homes and end up homeless because of that. However, she said she’s hoping to do other things in Draper to help women that find themselves in violent situations. 

“It’s sad that didn’t work out, but I’ve been working with the city and Mayor (Troy) Walker and his wife as well, and we’ve come up with some good ideas to raise awareness and get more people involved,” Wilson said. “I want to be able to go into schools and talk to kids about that, so we’ll see when I’ll be able to do that.”

Going into the Miss Draper competition in April, Wilson wasn’t terribly nervous. She felt prepared in her abilities to perform in dance, and in her commitment she had for her platform. Hearing her name called at the pageant was thrilling for Wilson. 

“I was so excited because I knew I’d be able to do a bunch with the city.”

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