Meara Seery of Brattleboro is Miss Vermont 2024.
Courtesy photo
Meara Seery of Brattleboro is Miss Vermont 2024.

Brattleboro resident crowned Miss Vermont

Meara Seery, who walked the stage with 5-year-old Annabelle Reynolds, will compete in January for Miss America

BRATTLEBORO-Just a few days after she turned 24, Meara Seery of Brattleboro has been crowned Miss Vermont.

"It is really special to feel all the support coming from all over the country," Seery said after her win, adding that friends all around the country watched the pageant unfold via livestream and her family was there in person.

"It almost felt overwhelming how much love and support I've been receiving in the last few days," she continued. "My heartfelt thanks for all the community support, my friends, and my family. I couldn't be Miss Vermont without any of them, and their help."

For Seery, the daughter of Theresa Conway of Brattleboro and James Seery of Massachusetts, the third time was, indeed, the charm.

"Every cell in my body had been tingling all week, and the sensation of positive joy got stronger each day the pageant grew closer with Meara being on stage," said Conway. "It is so exciting. My feet haven't touched the ground yet - and I'm not even the winner. I couldn't be more proud."

"She's worked hard," she continued. "With everything she does, she gives 100%. When she played jazz trumpet in high school, she wouldn't miss practice - three hours every night, after field hockey practice.

"I'm just so proud. This was her year. She's ready."

After competing in 2021 and 2023, Seery was crowned on Saturday, April 14, at the Miss Vermont and Miss Vermont Teen 2024 competition held at Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe.

How did the crowning moment feel?

"They announce the first runner-up first, so I knew I'd won and, honestly, I kind of blanked out then," Seery said with a laugh.

"It was really magical, and I was in complete shock, even though I felt entirely confident in my performance," she said. "I kept touching my sash to remind myself it was actually happening."

Seery, who competed as Miss Southern Vermont, vied with 10 others in her category for the crown.

"The Miss Vermont organization is a really special place," she said. "I've competed in other systems, and there's nothing like it. The volunteers and board members and girls are so supportive. I really think of the girls as friends and peers, not competitors, because the camaraderie level is so high."

The about 2½-hour program consisted of onstage questions, or "hot topics," as well as a fitness, talent, and evening gown presentation.

For the question portion, each woman chose an envelope with an unknown topic on which she had to speak for 30 seconds.

Seery pulled the drug crisis topic.

"It was the only one I did not want to get, but I think I did really well, regardless," she said, noting she spoke of the seriousness of drugs in the state and pledged to use her year as Miss Vermont to help educate young people about how to prevent and avoid addiction.

Seery, a digital producer, spearheads "Green for Good," her community service project in which she advocates for sustainability practices by promoting shopping at farmers markets and second-hand shops.

She bought her Jovani gown secondhand and credits Nancy Bell from The Right Fit in Brattleboro for tailoring it just two days before the pageant.

For her talent performance, Seery sang a jazz rendition of The White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army," in the style of a cover version sung by Postmodern Jukebox.

Today's pageant

Seery is reportedly the fifth Brattleboro resident to win the Miss Vermont title, the last being Sue Glover in 1971.

Vermont still has never had a delegate chosen as a Miss America finalist, but Seery will get the chance to change that in January, when she competes for the 2025 title.

She now starts a year providing community service for Vermonters through appearances and events, a big part of the mission of the organization.

Seery has partnered with Green Up Vermont and plans to be part of the 100-mile Route 100 cleanup on Green Up Vermont Day on Saturday, May 4.

Her first public appearance as Miss Vermont will be Thursday, April 25 in Burlington with the Vermont chapter of the American Heart Association.

Fighting 'misconception' and 'ignorance'

Asked why she competes in pageants and what they have to offer young women in 2024, Seery said she believes "there's a lot of misconception about what pageantry is about and a lot of ignorance about who's competing."

"It's changed a lot in the past 102 years," she said. "The Miss America organization, of which Miss Vermont is a part, is the largest provider of scholarships for women in America."

Seery received a $7,500 scholarship for school tuition costs, a $5,000 scholarship for a public speaking course, and a $2,500 wardrobe award.

If she wins in the Miss America contest, she'll spend the year in community service across the country. If not, she'll crown the next Miss Vermont in April 2025.

Seery said she's most looking forward to "the variety of appearances and events that I get to go to."

"I'm really looking forward to the Father's Day Fishing Derby because it's a tradition that Miss Vermont gets to kiss the winning fish, the largest fish of the day," she said with a laugh, adding she may well enter the contest with her dad since she grew up fishing with him.

Mentoring thrills

Seery also registered three young girls from Brattleboro in the Red Clover Kids Program - aka, Miss America's Little Sisters - a mentorship program with events throughout the year that the young ones attend with title holders.

This year, Annabelle Reynolds, 5, was partnered with Seery, whose mother - a preschool teacher - knew Annabelle, who has Down Syndrome.

"Annabelle - oh my goodness, I call her 'my firecracker,'" said Conway.

Mulberry Bush Early Learning Program sponsored Annabelle, the daughter of Jaci and William Reynolds of Brattleboro, to participate.

"Our experience with the Miss Vermont scholarship organization was filled with so much love and inclusion," Jaci Reynolds said.

"All of the organizers were amazing. Everyone was willing to make any necessary accommodations to make the event work for Annabelle," she continued. "We were given a laptop to watch the livestream so that Annabelle wouldn't be overwhelmed by the crowd. I was allowed to accompany her backstage and even across the stage."

Reynolds pointed out that accommodations are "an important part of inclusion because the typical world just isn't set up for folks with disabilities."

Among the accommodations made for Annabelle, who was invited to participate in all Red Clover Kids' events, were "open communication with event organizers to ensure that we knew what to expect."

"My requests for accommodations were granted, and it truly felt like it was no problem whatsoever," said Reynolds. "This is a rare feeling. Usually I feel like I have to apologize for being difficult. Not the case with these lovely people."

She said Seery also reached out ahead of time "so that we would know that Annabelle would be paired with her and also so that we could ask her any questions."

"Meara also sang Annabelle's favorite song ['Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes'] with her to help her feel comfortable," Reynolds said.

"Once backstage, Annabelle wasn't able to stay in her designated spot for long. We were allowed to explore backstage until it was 'go' time," she noted.

Annabelle did have to leave before the end of the event, "which was unfortunately necessary to prevent a tired girl from melting down," her mother said. "However, we were informed immediately that Meara won. It felt like they really cared about us."

Seery, said Reynolds, not only made Annabelle's day, but also was the perfect partner for her daughter.

"When she saw Meara, she yelled, 'Princess!', said Reynolds. "And when she saw the crowns, she said, 'Me first!' She was stoked. She has been saying that she wants to be a princess for the past two days."

Reynolds said Seery was "so patient, composed, and sweet with Annabelle."

"I expected it to be very stressful, given Annie's tendency to investigate every interesting aspect of her surroundings, but Meara was completely unfazed, and I was wishing that the judges could have seen it," said Reynolds.

"The world is not exactly full of people who have a natural ability to connect with people who have disabilities, and Meara has that," she continued.

"And fortunately, although the judges didn't see what I saw, they were as impressed as I was. When we learned that Meara won, we felt like we won, too," Reynolds said.

Annabelle went home with her Little Miss Red Clover sash, crown, and necklace as gifts.

For Seery, Annabelle's exuberance was a joy.

"I saw a lot of myself in Annabelle because I also like to do what I want, and I saw that she was just having a good time and wanted to explore," she said.

"I was like, 'Me, too, girl - I get it.' She was so sweet," Seery said. "I hope we'll be partnered together for the next year."

This News item by Virginia Ray was written for The Commons.

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