An EPIC Crowning Weekend

Mary cut her crown into 7 pieces.

The 2023 Thanksgiving weekend boasted a photo shoot and queen meetup. Hosted by the EPIC Director, Mary Oakes’ the event was “EPIC” on multiple levels. There were seven national queens present and eager to perform. As a seasoned community service and pageant queen, I was practical enough to comprehend resource allocation and open-minded enough about the sleepover or backyard camping venue option. This was a unique concept but Mary wanted EPIC family memories and in her wisdom knew closeness and memories are fostered when you treat everyone like family.

We did not stay in a hotel. Instead, we were warmly welcomed into the International Director’s own home near San Antonio, Texas with every room set up like a cozy Fredericksburg BNB. I liked it. I liked it a lot. The meet and greet felt less superficial to me, as the queens and entourage took off their shoes and began chatting as if we were all at a friend’s home, chilling… and truly we were!

Mary hosted informal introductions as the queens parlayed into the great room and meandered into the kitchen, the heart of every home. Mary busied herself with preparing the complimentary evening meal, touting the benefits of a nearby HEB, one of Texas’ best-kept family and corporate culinary secrets. Some of the queens were unfamiliar with Texas and were taking copious culinary notes. Stories were shared about chicken dinners gone wrong, salt and pepper shakers exchanged for Uber instead of cash, puffy eye remedies under the radar, and tips on staying awake for 48 hours.

Friendly dogs barked and wagged their tails, as an aloof tabby cat made its way into the living area, sniffing each queen’s shoes and teasing those anticipating pets.

The queens feasted and discussed their food allergies and health battles, sharing tips and tricks on persevering and overcoming these. Everyone seemed very accepting. Each queen and family emerged from very different walks of life yet came together to be “EPIC” weaving a common thread of originality, perseverance, acceptance, charity, and confidence into one blanket. No complaints. There were none.

When the local Cibolo Santa didn’t show up on time, the queens walked the festival, inviting young princesses and anyone else to join and take photos to show solidarity and community spirit. When the weather didn’t cooperate, the queens did not complain. After all, there was faux snow, and it was 69 degrees.

When the photo venue changed at a moment’s notice, everyone collaborated and changed course with grace and optimism. That does not usually happen during business hours in the private or non-profit sector. Everyone was focused on collaboration. Ladies sighed, girls wanted snacks, feet in heels hurt, but no one complained.

What was this universe? This was Mary’s universe. It worked.

Mary cut her own crown into 7 pieces to serve the queens who served her pageant with a beautiful and equal exchange.

– Maria Merrick, Elite EPIC Ambassador

Emissary Pageants International Congress

Where Unshakeable Confidence, Sisterhood, Service, and Leadership come together!