How to Start a Pageant From Scratch

Interested in starting up a pageant? You’re in the right place. We’ll walk you through some preliminary steps for starting up a pageant or queen contest and get you headed in the right direction for not only a successful event, but more so, a successful title holder.

Granted, there may be additional things to keep in mind as you continue in the planning process such as starting a corporation or non-profit for the organization behind the title. I’d recommend chatting with Debra Fox (she’s great!).

And in case you don’t hear this enough, thank you. Thank you for donating your time and passion to helping youth achieve their dreams and grow into successful adults.

1) First, you need a business plan

You need to take this project on like you’re starting a business. You can get some great examples online. To start you off, here is what you need to type out:

Executive Summary. This is an introduction of what the pageant is and what the title will represent.

Pageant Description. A more in-depth and detailed description of your pageant and why it exists. Share you passion in this area.

Market analysis. Find like pageants in your state and others. When do they do their pageant? Over how many days? Roughly, how many contestants have they had?

Products and services. This would be a great place to lay where your title holder will go, things they will do during the year, etc.

Marketing plan. This is the fun stuff. Map out your year and what you will accomplish each month for marketing. For instance, in January you ask your judges, February you put together your sponsorship package, March you ask sponsors, etc.

Logistics and operations plan. Will you have a Board of Directors or people behind you? Where will you target your future contestants and sponsors?

Financial plan. Breakdown your estimated costs to put on the pageant. Don’t forget about printing, judge’s gifts, contestant gifts, meals, etc.

business plan

2) Date

Get that solidified for the pageant sooner than later. Be cognizant of other pageants and other events that could hurt your contestant numbers. Even things like a big sporting game, rolling into a holiday or even thinking about people’s work schedules, how will these effect your pageant date?

3) Location

Location may be dictated by your title type or event you’re representing. However, be sure your square footage and flow of space makes sense for your event. How will weather play into your location?

pageant room

4) Marketing

You need a plan for marketing to contestants and you need a separate plan to market to sponsors.


A great, free tool to use is Canva. There is no excuse for not having semi-professional documents. You need to have a consistent look with all of your marketing material from your Facebook page to your contestant packet.


At minimum, your contestant packet should include an intro from you or the pageant committee with the main details. Additional pages should include the pageant itinerary, an emergency contact, rules, how points are calculated and a sample title holder contact.

Regarding marketing to contestants, this should be well thought out on how you will advertise the pageant and when those steps will take place. Will there be a fee to enter?


I could (and will be 😊) writing an entire document on how to ask sponsors properly, but in the meantime, you know your area and clientele best. Go in with your best foot forward and be prepared with all stats and details of your event. Be prepared to speak on it and share on a hard/electronic pdf document. Sarah Kelsey with Rhinestone Lipgloss has a great video about the don’ts of sponsorship asks.

miss southern beauty usa prizes

5) Judges

Utilize to find a judge! When laying out your request, lay out your expectations: we want judges present at this location on this day, we’re expecting X amount of contestants, it will take roughly X amount of time, what do they get for judging, etc. As the event gets closer, follow up with your judges with rules, if they need to be prepared with questions and what to wear. Make sure you have all of the judge’s contact info, including cell phone, home address (for follow up thank you’s) and email.

6) Pageant Day T0-D0's

A few items to keep in mind as your mapping out your pageant week/day:

– Scripts for your MC

– Slideshow

– Choreography- At at the very least, everyone needs to be on the same page on the same way to come on and off stage, where to stand when, etc. Plan on practice time with contestants.

– Put yourself in the shoes of a sponsor. Do you have the right amount of signage, mentions, interactions with them and contestants?

– Think of your pageant space or coronation space like you’re putting on a corporate meeting or wedding. Think about the space visually to make sure it’s appropriate and classy. You don’t have to have a big budget on decorations to make a space look nice. Think about table covers, stage décor, lighting, etc.

7) After Pageant

– Title holder meeting should follow coronation. Go over all details of the title, expectations, contract signing, next steps.

– Reflect on the event- What went well, what would you change? Write everything down.

– Thank you’s need to be written within 7-10 days to sponsors, judges and other help.

Putting on a pageant takes a ton of time, but believe me, it’s worth it. If you’re looking for more in depth resources or have specific questions, feel free to reach out!

Katie Stien Queen Connection founder brick wall photo rodeo queen pageants judge coach

Katie Stien

Katie Stien is a wife, mom of two boys, meeting expert, pig show regular and cowboy boot aficionado. She is also a past title holder, pageant coordinator of more than 12 years, an agriculture advocate and enjoys helping youth be the best versions of themselves. Through Katie’s professional and personal career, she saw a need to connect those in the industry; hence how Queen Connection was born.

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