Miss Summit County stripped of title
Pageants are often a seedbed for controversy. Summit County is no exception.
Rilie Prather, the 2005 Miss Summit County was stripped of her title just before July 4.
"Rilie represented them very well," said Dave Haws, the Miss Utah Director.
According to Penny Prather, Rilie’s mother, Summit County does not support the Miss Utah Pageant, which prompted the retraction.
"Rilie lost her title because she was representing Summit County in the Miss Utah Pageant," Penny said.
According to David Brickey, the Summit County attorney, she lost her title because she failed to appear in a parade on the Fourth of July. During that time, Rilie was also obligated to participate in the preparations for Miss Utah, Brickey said.
"The young lady was lucky enough to be selected as Summit County Queen," Brickey said. "Thereafter, she was given a contract, which indicated that one of her obligations was to make certain appearances. She chose to attend the Miss Utah Pageant rather than those functions as Miss Summit County.
"We told her that she couldn’t, she chose to do what she wanted. When she chose that, the county fair board chose to terminate her relationship as queen. If you sign an agreement to work for somebody then you try to change it. Unilaterally, you can’t do that. You have to respect those original terms."
Brickey blames Miss Utah for the Rilie’s loss.
"Mr. Haws runs an organization that is in direct conflict with Summit County," Brickey said. "Mr. Haws doesn’t acknowledge that it’s his own competition that puts her out of a title. She was simply training and they wouldn’t let her attend the parade. Mr. Haws said, ‘No you have to be here.’ Why couldn’t she have attended late? It would have been really nice to have Miss Summit County at the parade.
"Park City’s parades have start times," Brickey continued. "What young lady wants to spend the Fourth at a pageant? This is an opportunity to be seen by three times as many people as the state competition. Why couldn’t they have been trained a day or two before so they could be in the parades?"
According to Haws, because of scheduling difficulties with other counties, the Fourth was the only time they could have planned the event this year. Haws said 2006 was the first time they had the girls participating in Miss Utah on the Fourth. No other county had any problems letting their representatives join Miss Utah, Haws said.
Rilie also has papers to show that Summit County allowed her to participate in Miss Utah, months before.
"They (Summit County) signed a contract, which is a franchise agreement, which allowed her to participate," Haws said. "We couldn’t even put her as Miss Summit County until they gave her approval to participate. This is just odd as odd."
In contrast to what Brickey said, Haws said he gave permission for Rilie to appear in the Park City parade. However, he said they had already stripped her of the title and never gave her the information of where to meet.
"Why did they sign the contract when they knew it would conflict with the dates? Is it a lack of education that they didn’t check into it? That they didn’t find out that was the time of the pageant. When she gives permission, you would think they had done their homework," Haws said.
Haws said he was given the papers indicating the Rilie lost her title only days before Miss Utah would start. He also says there is more than just a lack of Miss Utah support among the Summit County pageant ranks.
"I thought it as very poor of them. I was very, very surprised that they would do it to her the day she was supposed to join the competition," Haws said. "There’s a woman up there in Summit County that feels like she’s power hungry. She’s the one that’s been very tough to work with. It’s almost like she feels like she’s God Almighty.
"They knew that they were trying to destroy her mindset," Haws continued. "It was very orchestrated what they were doing. They were trying to hurt the young lady. They were very adamant about what they were trying to do. It was well set out to hurt the young lady."
Brickey doesn’t feel that any emotion or malice was intended for Rilie or any other young woman.
"I have no desire to see her from progressing forward. It’s unfortunate that the two pageants couldn’t work themselves out," Brickey said.
But it’s not Brickey who Haws is talking about. He believes the women in charge of the pageant, who declined to comment, are the ones with sour intent.
"No matter what anyone says, no authority should try to harm her emotionally. That is so wrong. They could have done it weeks before or weeks after but, no, it had to be the day it started. It amazes me that that’s who Riley was representing," Haws said. "The letters that we have received from them have been derogatory. It was just demeaning. It amazed me that someone over a position in the county would be this way."
Because her title was stripped, Rilie lost scholarship money and became saddled with a bad reputation as a politically "hot" candidate in pageants. But she doesn’t care about the money or anything else she lost in the controversy.
"I’m doing it for the girls," Rilie said. "They deserve the opportunity to compete in Miss Utah."
According to the Prathers, Summit County girls will never have a chance to compete in Miss Utah as long as the current board members are in charge.
"It’s sad because it’s going to harm the next girl that might have an opportunity to do such a thing. It’s a great way for a girl to gain a scholarship," Haws said. "It’s more than just looking pretty. It just really, really sets me off raw when their ego is more important than a young lady. They never kick off a baseball player for not showing up in a parade. It’s sad."
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