Miss City of Maricopa Jaime Buchholz was only eligible to compete for one year, but that didn’t stop her from making her dreams come true during her reign.
Buchholz, who entered the Miss City of Maricopa competition at 24, will “age out” and be ineligible to compete in future Miss Arizona events. Despite the brief tenure, Buchholz seized the opportunity to make a childhood dream come true.
“I got involved because my friend Christina (Tetreault) won Miss Maricopa County, and I thought, ‘I could do that,’” Buchholz said. “She inspired me to get involved, and since I wanted to be a princess since I was little, I figured I would go for it. The worst case scenario was I lost.”
Buchholz attributes her desire to compete in the city of Maricopa to her upbringing in Gilbert. When she was young, Gilbert was largely a farming community outside of the city. As the Phoenix grew, so did Gilbert. Coming to Maricopa made her feel at home, and the people of the city welcomed her.
Over the last year, Buchholz has been able to use her job as a nurse to expand her initiative to help veterans. Her dedication to her work and community has been tremendous, but it has also been difficult at times. During her training for Miss Arizona, Buchholz had to start eating healthy and begin a workout routine.
The Miss City of Maricopa program needs scholarship funds. See GoFundMe.com
This all resulted in her losing 35 pounds and developing healthy habits, but the stress of work added an obstacle most contestants did not have to deal with. Despite not winning the Miss Arizona crown in the only opportunity she will have, Buchholz has loved being part of the program.
“The best part about being Miss City of Maricopa was working with all of the kids,” Buchholz said. “They saw me as a real princess, so I was able to make their dream of meeting a princess come true. I always wanted to be a Disney princess, and the kids made me feel like one every time I saw them.”
As she moves forward, Buchholz will stay involved in with the Miss City of Maricopa program and mentor her successors.
The pageant’s new executive director, Carrie Vargas, has added a third crown, so Buchholz will mentor Miss City of Maricopa, Miss Pinal County and the newly developed Miss Estrella Mountain after her reign ends.
“I think it’s great they added another crown,” Buchholz said. “It gives another girl an opportunity to earn a scholarship and be part of the program.”
The Miss Estrella Mountain crown will add to the pageant’s reach for contestants, but finding enough girls could still be a problem for the Miss City of Maricopa Scholarship Organization. The group wasn’t able to get enough contestants to fulfill Miss Pinal County requirements last year.
Adding a third crown will increase the number of contestants needed to fill the “Miss” categories from eight to 12, and the number needed to fill the “Outstanding Teen” category from six to nine. If the board is unable to get enough girls to compete, the crowns will share the same fate as this year’s Miss Pinal County crown and remain vacant.
Another challenge facing the organization is a new regime of board members. The new board was brought on after the previous pageant directors were promoted. Vargas stepped into the role of director and hopes to have the same level of success as her predecessors.
“The two ladies who have run the program were called up to the state level, and I was asked to fill their position,” Vargas said. “I have served as the pageant’s production manager over the last two years, so I was excited to accept the position. It all came together quickly, and I was able to quickly assemble a team with valuable experience.”
The new pageant board includes Cheryl Ortiz as the pageant’s co-director, Colleen Corliss as the pageant’s production manager and board member, Lisa Sorenson as the pageant’s judges chair and board member, and Marisa McDonald as the Princess Program director and board member.
Vargas believes the new pageant board will be able to move the program forward and find more contestants.
In order to avoid having vacant crowns, Vargas has added more meet-and-greets around the region to increase their recruiting efforts as well. She hopes to build the organization’s brand and value with a new generation of contestants.
“It’s a good experience for the girls,” Vargas said. “They learn and gain so much from being a part of it.”
The board hopes to get more girls involved by showing that being part of the Miss City of Maricopa Scholarship program is more than just competing in a pageant or earning a scholarship. As Buchholz embodies, it can mean as much as making a dream come true.
“I can’t describe how much fun I’ve had,” Buchholz said. “I’ve always joked if I couldn’t be a nurse I would go to Disneyland and be a princess. Now I’ve been able to be both. It’s been a truly great experience.”
This story previously appeared in the Fall Edition of InMaricopa the Magazine.