Get to know new Miss DowagiacPublished 11:08am Monday, February 11, 2013
Amanda Hassle prepared for the “Once Upon a Time” pageant by learning to walk in high heels.
“I’m so excited,” she said Sunday morning.
An afterglow at the Elks lasted an hour and a half, then she had friends over for fajitas.
“It was amazing,” she said, seated at her dining room table in Wayne Township. “I really liked meeting all the people and having them tell me congratulations. I didn’t get home until 11 or 11:30. I went to bed about 12:30, 1. We’re early risers.”
Judges asked her about Dowagiac and about her travel platform.
“I talked about Round Oak stoves,” said Amanda, who received a key to the city from Councilman James Dodd. “They asked if I would rather be president or first lady. I said first lady. Thank God we had a mock interview because it helped settle my nerves and really prepared us for the actual interview.”
Judges “asked me how I would be a good advocate for my platform. I said I might incorporate travel on the float or inform people what it can do for your life.”
While Australia tops her bucket list, Amanda, 17, has been to Florida, Nevada and Europe.
“There was a school trip last summer. There were 16 of us from Dowagiac who met up with students from other states. We had to pay for ourselves. I think we went for 16 days and moved around a lot,” including Spain, Italy, Germany and her favorite, France. “I really liked the food.”
She followed her sisters, Rebecca and Sarah, to Peaches Boutique in Chicago to scout gowns. The third of Joe and Martha Hassle’s four daughters, she also has a younger brother, Joseph.
Though her favorite color is red, “We all knew that dress was it the minute I tried it on. It’s champagne pink and sparkly,” high-necked, open-backed, with a leg slit.
During the pageant, “I hung out with Jenna, Morgan and ‘Rosie’ a lot,” because their numbers fell in sequence (Jenna File, 6; Morgan Helmuth, 7; Cheryl Ennesser, 8; and Amanda, 9.
“I was scared to be last,” she said, “because if I tripped, that would be the last thing people would remember. I thought I stumbled on my platform, but I didn’t know if anyone noticed. My heart was beating very fast. I haven’t had experience being on stage, but I felt comfortable going out there in front of my community and making a good impression.”
Amanda, who stands 5-foot-4 with blonde hair and green eyes, is not a dancer and hasn’t played a musical instrument since clarinet in grade school at Kincheloe, “Dowagiac’s best school.”
“I’m not a dancer,” she said, but “I’m not afraid to get out there and move. I listen to all kinds of music — country, rap, pop. On TV, I watch a lot of ID (Investigation Discovery) shows. That’s all I watch.”
Either were escorts Brett Scanlon, football star, and Jeremy Collins, band drum major, who danced “Gangnam Style” when master of ceremonies Joe Jason let them bust a move.
She likes to dress up, but isn’t afraid to get dirty, showing the grand champion dairy feeder steer at the Cass County Fair in 2008.
The eight-year Country Trailblazers 4-H member has graduated to beef.
Amanda, who describes herself in three words as humorous, confident and outgoing, plays soccer, is secretary of Rotary Interact and Student Senate, snowboards (“I can get down the hill without falling”) and works at Timberline busing tables and for the family farm business, Berrybrook.
She is the niece of school board member Ruth Ausra.
Amanda has been accepted to Adrian College, where she intends to study toward a medical career as a physician’s assistant with her $2,000 scholarship.
Since there were only nine contestants, new co-directors and former queens Courtney Livingston (2005) and Gabrielle Dorman (2011) dispensed with the suspenseful entry of five finalists and let all the young ladies draw an envelope and answer a question.
“If I could have dinner with anyone, it would be Connie Franz, who passed away, to catch up with her and let her know how my family and her family are doing,” Amanda said. “She and my grandma were very close friends. The celebrity one, I would like to meet Taylor Swift because I believe she’s speaking to me when she sings her songs.”
“Whenever my parents are gone, my sister Rebecca cooks dinner, but I’m a baker” with a sweet tooth for brownies, cake and ice cream.
“I saw my sisters go through (Miss Dowagiac) and they had such a great time,” she said. “I wanted that, I wanted my memories, plus my mom wanted me to go out,” Amanda said. “I’m very happy to represent this town. It truly means a lot.”