LEWISTON – Nicole Chamberland, in her second foray into the pageant world, walked away Sunday with the title of Miss Maine for America 2020.

Nicole Chamberland of Mechanic Falls, daughter of Mary Dempsey and niece of actor Patrick Dempsey, is crowned Miss Maine for America 2020 by her best friend and last year’s winner, Jenna Richardson.  Susan Costa Photography

A resident of Mechanic Falls and dean of students at Minot Consolidated School, Chamberland said she participated in a pageant for the first time in 2019 after a contestant coordinator for the Miss Maine for America Pageant — not to be confused with the Miss Maine pageant — asked if she wanted to enter.

According to its website, the Mrs. and Miss Maine for America pageants offer two separate competitions: the Mrs. Maine America pageant for married women, and the Miss Maine for America pageant for single, divorced or widowed women.

Chamberland placed in the top five of all contestants in 2019 and decided to participate again this year. She is the daughter of Mary Dempsey and niece of actor Patrick Dempsey.

“Pageantry was not something I considered participating in because I didn’t understand nor embrace the mission behind it,” Chamberland said. “Pageantry is about sisterhood. I feel empowered being around women who constantly lift each other up and support and celebrate each other’s successes.”

This year, COVID-19 had a noticeable impact on how the pageant was organized.

Chamberland said it was scheduled for April and was rescheduled twice before the date was locked in for the first weekend of September. The number of people allowed into the venue was limited to 50, and in-person guests of contestants were limited to one person.

One of the most noticeable effects of COVID-19 on the pageant was the number of contestants, Chamberland said.

“This year, we didn’t have many contestants due to COVID,” she said. “We only had three on pageant day.” Typically there are 10 or so, she said.

Chamberland said the outpouring of emotions from her family and friends was immediate when she was announced as the winner.

“My mom instantly started crying when I was crowned,” Chamberland said. “My dad and my stepmom watched from a livestream and were over the moon and proud of me. My boyfriend squeezed me so tight when he saw me after and told me how elated he was for me. My other family and friends who watched sent messages, videos and words of excitement for my win.”

The icing on the cake? Chamberland said Jenna Richardson, last year’s Miss Maine for America winner and one of her best friends, crowned her.

“It was a moment both of us dreamed (about),” Chamberland said. “We’ve spent the past year attending events, giving our time back to our communities and supporting each other every step of the way.”

As winner, Chamberland said she qualified to compete in Las Vegas at an undetermined date for the Miss for America crown.

She said she will also use her position as Miss Maine for America to “bring awareness to the importance of movement within the classroom.”

“Bringing fun, creative ideas to the classroom not only benefits students, but also teachers,” Chamberland said.

She said she created a dance class called Jazzy Pop that is “offered to the students within my school to promote movement.”

She also developed an online presence called “Teach. Move. Repeat.” that documents the benefits of movement and its effect on learning at her school.

Chamberland said she wants to spend some of her time as Miss Maine for America “promoting our pageantry system in hopes that other women 18 and older will consider running in the future.”

“As Miss Maine for America, I will continue being true to myself and advocate for all women,” she said. “One of the reasons I joined this pageant system is because of its inclusivity. Size, race, gender, age and marital status do not limit participation.”

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