"Beauty" was in the air Saturday night inside the Holiday Inn in Beaufort.
Performing under stage names, squeezed into evening gowns and strutting their stuff, seven of Beaufort's most influential men tried to sing, dance and lip-synch their way into the hearts of five judges and more than 200 others who packed a dimly-lit ballroom inside the Holiday Inn for the first Beaufort Beauties beauty pageant. The pageant raised money for Main Street Beaufort, U.S.A. and six other Beaufort nonprofit organizations.
After opening the show with a choreographed group dance number, the "ladies" went wig-to-wig in talent and evening gown competitions before the panel of judges, which included Beaufort City Councilwoman Donnie Beer and state Rep. Shannon Erickson, pared the field to five contestants and interviewed each of them.
Beaufort City Manager Scott Dadson, performing under the stage name "Miss Marple," took home the crown, narrowly edging out Jay Lovell of First Citizens Bank, who took home honors in the talent and evening gown competitions and walked away with the "Miss Congeniality" prize for raising the most money. Each contestant was asked to raise at least $2,000 to benefit Main Street Beaufort and sixother area nonprofit organizations.
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"It came from the inside, it just came blossoming out of me," Dadson said facetiously, peeling off his fake eyelashes. "I'm excited. I'm ecstatic. I'm teary."
Beer said she had a newfound respect for Dadson and the other contestants, namely Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling. Keyserling was the pageant's third runner-up.
"It was amazing," Beer said. "It takes a lot of guts to get up there on that stage."
Erickson said the pageant may have uncovered some diamonds in the rough.
"We have a major source of undiscovered talent here in Beaufort," Erickson said with a chuckle.
Organizers were still tallying the amount raised Saturday night, but said the pageant would return for a second year in 2011.
Dadson said he wouldn't miss the opportunity to pass the torch.
"Oh, I'll definitely be there," Dadson said. "I've got to pass on the crown."