A Visual Group/Joseph Pier
Mrs. California, Tracie Stafford of Sacramento, returned Sunday morning after competing last week in the Mrs. United States pageant in Las Vegas.
Alas, Tracie didn't win the ginormous crown but, as she puts it: "My goal was to shine brightly, and that's what I did!" (The winner was Mrs. Michigan.)
And, ever the graceful competitor, Tracie even helped backstage with the Top 10 contestants as they nervously prepped for the competition. She also attended a reception afterward because, after all, "I'm still representing California."
Now, I know you're all wondering about the evening gown that Tracie chose to wear in the pageant. To help, The Bee even conducted a gown poll recently for readers, giving them four choices and asking them to pick the one they'd most like to see Tracie wear.
Nearly 400 readers weighed in, and the winner was announced on July 4 here at 21Q and in Scene's "Looking Good" feature on Page 3. It was the Golden Goddess, one of two gowns that Tracie did indeed take to Vegas.
The other gown? Well, on the Friday before the pageant, Tracie flew down to Los Angeles and found a Claire's Collection gown (pictured above) that, as Tracie puts it, "encompassed everything the readers said I should look for."
It was certainly reminiscent of the winning gold gown. For example: It had the color and similar styling of the Golden Goddess, but it had strong points similar to those of the other three in our poll, as well: it had a sexy ruffle like the Green Goddess gown; the sleekness and beading of the Beaded Black gown, and the leg baring of the Lovely Layers gown. Plus, it had the added benefit of a sweetheart neckline, which Tracie felt strongly about having.
"I covered it all in that one gown," she says. "If the Sacramento Bee readers could have designed a gown, it would have looked like this. I really do appreciate all the input because it enabled me to put this gown together."
As for her hair, Tracie wore it up for a more elegant look - for both the evening gown and swimsuit (pictured right) portions.
But all wasn't cool in Vegas. If you weather hounds will recall, it was darn sweltering last week. And Tracie says the heat caused problems for some contestants (three fainted), including several who were pregnant!
"We all just helped each other get through it," she says.
Tracie will continue to represent the state as Mrs. California. Her next big assignment? The grand opening of the State Fair in August, where she'll appear with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Sneak preview: And speaking of "Looking Good," here's a look at what's TK on Scene's Page 3 on Wednesday: A new line of clothing at Target and advice for folks who are allergic to gluten.