Sometimes even beauty queens have to face life’s tough questions, such as: “How do you can a tomato?”
The way you answer such innocuous questions as that one can determine if you’re named Miss Teen New Jersey or simply a runner up, said Julianna Furfari, the newest Miss Teen New Jersey in the United States Pageant System.
Furfari, 15, a sophomore at Bishop Eustace High School and Evesham resident, triumphed over 12 other contestants at the finalist pageant for the title on Saturday, April 7.
She will now compete for the national Miss United States in the United States Pageant System this summer in Washington, D.C.
“I had never done pageants as a child, but I’ve always wanted to be on stage, to be an actress. I started cheerleading when I was young and that was more of a team sport. I wanted to venture out and do something that I could do for myself,” Furfari said. “This is only my second pageant, but I love to perform and be on stage. I absolutely fell in love with it — and competing.”
Furfari is competing for her platform the “Precious Gems,” a competitive special needs cheerleading squad she coaches.
Despite being a pageant novice, Furfari has a strong ally and coach in her corner.
She enlisted the help of Sammi-Jo Danze, the reigning Miss New Jersey of the United States Pageant System, who owns a dress shop in Marlton.
Furfari actually wore a gown she received from Danze’s store, The Royal Court Gown and Dress Shoppe.
Danze helped Furfari with every aspect of the pageant, including how to answer the personal questions correctly and the best way to walk in high heels. Simple things like this can win or lose a competitor a pageant, Furfari said.
The pre-competition interview sees the judges of the pageant asking the competitors any kind of question to see how they react, hence the “How do you can a tomato?” question that was hurled her way.
“I would say, the one that got me most, is they asked me how to can a tomato. It’s something that we do as an activity as a family and I listed it on my resume. They asked me how to do it, but I mostly just watch them canning the tomatoes, so I struggled a bit with that,” she said with a chuckle.
It should be an interesting competition in Washington, D.C., on July 8, as Furfari will go through a five-day preliminary event before the competition. She’ll be attending a parade for the competition, will be making several guest appearances at sporting events in town, and preliminary swimsuit and jeans competitions.
Girls will be judged throughout these events, she said, and during the main competition, about 35 girls will be eliminated after the initial opening number, based on their performances in the preliminary competitions.
Even if she doesn’t win the competition, Furfari said the experience of being in a high-pressure competition would help her later in life when she transitions into a career of news casting or acting.
“It’s a lot of hard work. It’s not always what you see on television with the toddlers and tiaras, a lot more work goes into it than people think,” she said.