Beauty pageant hopeful

HOUGHTON – For a lot of girls, winning a beauty contest is a dream come true. And for 14-year-old Courtney Kokkonen, that dream is on its way to becoming a reality.

In September, Kokkonen will be heading to the Miss Michigan Teen USA competition in Port Huron.

Kokkonen had entered a pageant when she was 5-years-old, but hasn’t been in any since. But when her cousin showed her a website for the Miss Michigan Teen USA competition, she wanted to compete.

“I showed my mom and we talked about it and we thought it would be a good idea to do it,” Kokkonen said. “We’re gonna try it and see how it goes.”

Kokkonen said she enjoys the competition between the girls and getting to know other girls from different places.

She will be heading down there this month just for orientation and then the competition takes place in September.

Kokkonen said she will be competing with 100 girls. For the event, any girl can enter herself into the competition, but the finalists are chosen by the voting committee who choose the 100 girls to go down to Port Huron.

But Kokkonen isn’t the only Copper Country girl who will be attending. Two girls from Lake Linden and Hancock will also be there.

“I’ll actually have somebody to talk to when I’m down there.” But Kokkonen admits she is nervous to go.

For the pageant, there will be three categories: cocktail dress, swimsuit and then a dress of the girl’s choice. The pageant will take place over two days.

“It’s gonna be a long weekend,” Kokkonen said. “But the second day is just for the top 15.” Meaning that on the first day 85 girls will be asked to leave.

While Kokkonen didn’t have to pay anything to enter the contest, the cost of transportation, dresses and other expenses are taking their toll and the Kokkonen family are asking for any donations possible. So far about $100 has been raised, but its estimated that about $2,000 is needed. Donations can be sent to PO Box 165, Hancock, Michigan, 49930.

In preparation for the contest, Kokkonen has been doing some pageant research.

“Just watching videos online of other girls and practicing my smile and my walk and my wave,” Kokkonen said. “Just the normal things you would have to do in a pageant. I’ve been working out a little bit especially since you have to wear a swimsuit around a bunch of people. Hopefully everything goes good and I win something.”

If Kokkonen is successful in this pageant, she’s hoping to be able to compete in others, as well.

“If I don’t make it far I’ll come home and finish school and get a job, I guess,” Kokkonen said.

For Jennifer Nyman, Courtney’s mom, she was a little surprised.

“She was like, ‘Mom, can I sign up for this pageant?’ and I said ‘Sure,’ not thinking that she’d actually get in and then she got a letter saying she was in. She’s very excited.”