MARION, Ill. -- Today is the final day of the annual Miss Illinois pageant in Marion and among the 24 women vying for the crown and the chance to represent Illinois in the Miss America pageant is Angelica Niemann.
Niemann, a Quincy resident, is competing under the local pageant title, Miss Springfield. She previously held the title of Miss Macomb and Miss Quincy.
"A lot of people have a misconception that this is a beauty pageant, but we are not judged on our beauty at all," Niemann said. "This is a scholarship program that gives you a chance to showcase your talent and your interview skills. Competing in this pageant has helped me with my future career."
She added that having the experience of being a local pageant title holder has helped her grow as a young woman.
The two-day pageant is being held at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center. Contestants in the scholarship program compete in a variety of categories both onstage and offstage. Contestants with the most points after the off-stage preliminary categories advance to Saturday night's live show, which will feature a repeat of the evening gown, on-stage interview, and talent.
Niemann, who has advanced out of the preliminary round in both of previous years of competition, said she is very optimistic that this will be the year she cracks into the finals.
"I think those previous years have made a big difference for me this year," Niemann said.
She said she has been focusing on her talent routine, which determines half of a contestant's score in the preliminary round of competition. Niemann is planning on performing a Pointe Ballet routine to the theme of "Pirates of the Caribbean" film series.
"I've been retraining my body to dance this routine, which was extremely difficult," Niemann said. She also has spent time developing her personal platform, Eat Right, Future Bright, which she says as a pre-diabetic is designed to help encourage others to focus not only eating fruits and vegetables, but also on improving their own quality of life.
If selected as this year's Miss Illinois, Niemann would become only the fourth Adams County representative or resident to receive that title. Others to hold that title were 1948's Miss Quincy Viola Ruth Hutmacher, of Quincy; 1966's Miss Adams County Mary Lee Inzerello, of Elk Grove Village; and 2012's Miss Quincy Megan Ervin, of Rushville. Of those women, Ervin is the only woman to advance out of the preliminaries and into the semi-finals of the national competition.
"It would be such a humbling experience (to be named Miss Illinois)," Niemann said. She said, if crowned Miss Illinois, she would use her tenure to be a accessible to all communities and would work tirelessly to promote a quality, healthy lifestyle for Illinois residents.
Niemann, is the daughter of Ted and Suzanne Niemann, of Quincy. In May, she graduated from the University of Illinois-Champaign with a degree in communications and a minor in public relations.