Anyone with unrealized pageant dreams has a chance to get involved — regardless of age or gender.

The Miss New Hampshire Scholarship Program is looking for some new prospective judges.

Would-be judges don't have to be experts in baton twirling or piano performance. They don't have to be adept at judging evening gown competitions or swimwear.

What they do need, according to Megan Norris of the Miss New Hampshire program, is a background in community service, some leadership skills, a good judge of personality and a familiarity with the program.

There are local pageants — and lots of them — leading up to the Miss New Hampshire pageant in January every year. And each one of those pageants requires five judges, people willing to donate their time to choosing the contestant best suited to represent their local community and go on to the state competition.

"We're always looking for new people," Norris said. "We're open to the new perspective they can bring."

Norris, just 17, has been a judge herself.

"It's definitely a new experience, but really is a lot of fun," she said. "I'll absolutely keep doing it."

Although she never took to the pageant stage herself, Norris has grown up in the world of Granite State pageants.

Her aunt, Brenda Keith, is the state pageant director.

There are about 15 pageants around the state throughout the year, one or two every month. The winners of those pageants go on to the state pageant in January, where some 26 young women compete for the state crown.

The judges now on the roster are pretty much evenly divided by gender, but do tend to be older, Norris said.

The scholarship program is offering a Judges' Workshop on Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the state Department of Education office, 101 Pleasant St., from 7 to 9 p.m.

Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be added to the list of potential judges available to judge local competitions.

There's no financial compensation, but there is some pride in helping choose the young woman who will go on to represent New Hampshire in the Miss America competition.

The time commitment is intense during pageant week at the state level, less so at the local level, Norris said.

"It's pretty big during pageant week, for the state competition," she said.

"It's very time consuming. There are lots of meetings and they have to conduct interviews. Even at the local level, they still have to conduct interviews."

But the judges don't need serious pageant expertise, nor talent-judging skills.

"We do have some people who have majored in dance," Norris said.

"Talent is just one of those things that counts for part of your score, but they're just having fun."

The judges do, too, she said.

The program occasionally puts out these calls for volunteers and the response is generally "pretty good," Norris said.

The workshop next month will be pretty informal, she said. It's informational and gives people a chance to get to know one another, and learn about the program and the commitment expected from judges. Newcomers generally go to a few pageants first to get some experience.

Anyone interested can show up Oct. 5. Be sure to ring the bell to get in and join the pageant system.

For more information, call 437-9027.

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