Sunday 25 March 2018

Child beauty pageant boss finds a venue for controversial show

Bryony Way, 8, pictured at the Universal Royalty Pageant. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Bryony Way, 8, pictured at the Universal Royalty Pageant. Photo: Gerry Mooney


SEVERAL Irish hotels have already secretly agreed to host the controversial American-style child's beauty pageant when it returns to our shores later this year, the Sunday Independent has learned.

The woman behind the flurry of tan, sequins, hairspray and tantrums said several hotels have been in contact to offer her the use of their premises for when she attempts to make her comeback here in March.

Despite the public outcry against Annette Hill's Universal Royalty Beauty Pageants last year, the six-foot Texan businesswoman has admitted she has been quietly making plans to host three pageants here.

Ms Hill said that just one pageant has been officially confirmed for September.

"We have been looking (for a venue) since we last left, we have not stopped looking, and we just want to make sure that we will always have a back-up.

"We have had three venues that requested us to have our events there, just because they do want the media exposure, and the business and the money that it will generate," she told the Sunday Independent.

Ms Hill was forced to host her planned pageant in the beer garden of a Co Monaghan pub last year after the original venue pulled out.

The controversial pageants have also featured on the reality TV show Toddlers and Tiaras.

Ms Hill's pageant was initially catapulted into the spotlight in Ireland last year after a lively debate in the media about whether her events promote the "sexualisation of children".

But Ms Hill is adamant that her events will go off without a hitch this time, and revealed she plans to line up at least 10 prospective venues in three separate locations.

"We always keep an agreement of whatever, a contract between us (and the hotels). And, they know how it will bring their business business, and how big it will be with the media. When the time is right we will release the venues," Ms Hill added.

Senator Jillian van Turnhoult, who was at the forefront of the public campaign against the pageant last year, said she was "upset" to hear of the plans for it to return to our shore.

She told the Sunday Independent: "It is upsetting, and I'll be doing everything that I can to give a voice. So many parents, and others, have written and contacted me, and they would support my belief that there is no place in Ireland for these types of beauty pageants.

"I'd be encouraging them not to come back."

Ms van Turnhoult urged hotels not to host the controversial pageants, and expressed disbelief that some have already agreed to do so. "I just can't believe it, I am dumbfounded," she added.

Irish Independent

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