Nine prominent Beaufort-area men will assume alter egos, don dresses and compete to become the fairest of them all Saturday night at the Dataw Island Club.
For the second year, Main Street Beaufort, USA, has recruited a group of well-known men to participate in its "Beaufort Beauties" pageant, an event that raises money for Main Street and several other local organizations. The pageant features the men dressed in women's attire.
Since creating the event, Main Street has recruited several community leaders to take part, including Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling and city manager Scott Dadson. This year's participants include Kendall Erickson, the husband of state Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort, and Randall Burch, the owner of Lowcountry Winery and chairman of Main Street's board of directors.
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This year's field also includes a pair of local firefighters -- Dan Byrne of the Burton Fire District and Lee Levesque of the Lady's Island Fire District.
Expected to perform under the stage name "Betty Bubbles," Levesque said he was happy to take part in an event that helps raise money for local charities, including Beaufort's Boys & Girls Club and Lowcountry Habitat for Humanity.
"I was approached by Main Street to see if I'd be willing to raise some money for some great charities, and anything we can do for the community, we're always willing to do," Levesque said. "I'm willing to lower my self-esteem for a good cause. I can tell you that after shopping for dresses yesterday, it is not at the top of my to-do list, but my wife and my sister had a blast."
Byrne said he, too, was happy to give back to the community -- even if it meant doing it in a dress and under the stage name "Miss Diagnosed."
"You get into the fire service because you want to help people, and this event helps raise money for organizations that do just that," Byrne said. "It was a little hard to explain to my (4-year-old) son when I was trying on dresses. That was interesting. He said, 'Daddy, those are girls' clothes.' "
Each contestant will participate in a choreographed opening number, a talent competition and the classic evening-gown round, according to event organizers.
The top five contestants will be interviewed by a panel of judges before a "beauty" is crowned. The top fundraiser will be named Miss Congeniality.
The event raised $7,000 last year, according to Main Street officials.