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It’s all about talent and tradition for these Lil’ Miss Meeker contestants

Puyallup girl prepares for Lil' Miss Meeker

Hailey Stock rehearses for the return of the Lil' Miss Meeker pageant to Puyallup's Meeker Days celebration.
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Hailey Stock rehearses for the return of the Lil' Miss Meeker pageant to Puyallup's Meeker Days celebration.

Standing in the backyard of her Puyallup home with her purple pom-poms, 8-year-old Hailey Stock rehearsed a cheer she knows by heart.

“Hey all you Puyallup fans, let me see you clap your hands,” Hailey chanted, for all her neighborhood to hear. “Now that you got that beat, let me hear you stomp your feet.”

Hailey’s mother, Jennifer, clapped her hands and stomped her feet along with the beat while Hailey’s father, Bill, worked in the yard. The family dog, Sara, ran around them.

It’s been a common scene in the Stock family the past few weeks as Hailey practices for the talent portion of this year’s Lil’ Miss Meeker, a pageant that runs during Puyallup’s Meeker Days festival.

Started in 2008 by the Puyallup Main Street Association, Lil’ Miss Meeker gives young girls ages 6 to 9 the chance to show how much they love Puyallup. The pageant will return this year after a three-year hiatus due to a lack of candidates who signed up.

8 contestants for this year’s Lil’ Miss Meeker

This year, eight girls will participate in the pageant. And it’s not about beauty — it’s about promoting positive self-esteem and confidence.

When it comes to cheerleading, Hailey’s confidence shines.

“I’m good at it,” said the Maplewood Elementary student.

Hailey comes from a family with a long history in Puyallup. Jennifer has lived in Puyallup all her life, right beside her mother. Her maiden name is Pihl. The Pihl family came to Puyallup with Ezra Meeker, and owned the Pihl Brothers grocery store downtown.

Jennifer has been going to Meeker Days for as long as she can remember, and has seen it grow over the years. When she had her only daughter, she started taking her, too.

“Now it’s turned into a mini-fair,” Jennifer said.

When Jennifer and Hailey heard about this year’s Lil’ Miss Meeker through a flyer, Hailey decided it was something she wanted to do.

When I first saw the flyer, I said, ‘No, this isn’t happening. And in front of a crowd? No way.’ And then one morning I woke up and I thought about it all night and I decided I’m going to do it.

Hailey Stock

“When I first saw the flyer, I said, ‘No, this isn’t happening. And in front of a crowd? No way,’” Hailey said. “And then one morning I woke up and I thought about it all night and I decided I’m going to do it.”

Jennifer hopes that Hailey will gain even more confidence when it comes to standing in front of a crowd and answering questions.

Holly Switzer has the same hopes for her own daughter, 8-year-old Ellyson.

“When I found out it was to support leadership and confidence, I said, ‘Okay, I can do that,’” Holly said. “This is more about Puyallup and being a community. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.”

When I found out it was to support leadership and confidence, I said, ‘Okay, I can do that ... This is more about Puyallup and being a community. That’s why I wanted to be a part of it.

Holly Switzer, Ellyson’s mom

Ellyson, a student at Zeiger Elementary, plans to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during her talent portion of the pageant. She knows Hailey through the same baseball team, and the two are friends.

Ellyson also comes from a longtime Puyallup family.

“The thing I love most about Puyallup is the fair because I grew up going there and my grandma used to work there and it’s kind of a tradition,” she said.

Sixteen-year-old CaLLisa Bailey from Parkland is the International Girl National Teen Miss and has been volunteering at the Puyallup Farmers Market for three years. She’ll be a judge in this year’s Lil’ Miss Meeker, and has been competing in pageants for as long as she can remember.

“My goal is to see the personal sides of the girls — stage presence and confidence,” Bailey said. “(Pageants) give them confidence to do what they want.”

Contestants will first be introduced in matching Lil’ Miss Meeker T-shirts, followed by interview questions and a talent portion. Winners will be announced at the end of the show while the girls wear their own dresses.

The Lil’ Miss Meeker pageant will take place during Meeker Days from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday (June 17) at the Rotary Stage in Pioneer Park, 330 S. Meridian.

Allison Needles: 253-256-7043, @herald_allison

78th Annual Meeker Days Arts & Music Festival

▪ Friday (June 16), Noon to 9 p.m.

▪ Saturday (June 17), 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

▪ Sunday (June 18), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Pioneer Park, 330 S. Meridian, Puyallup

The following streets will be closed during the Meeker Days celebration:

▪ Meridian Street, from Main Street to 4th Avenue SW

▪ 2nd Street SE, from East Main Street to East Pioneer Avenue

▪ 2nd Street SW, from West Main Street to Puyallup Activity Center/ Pioneer Park

▪ Condos roundabout

▪ Meeker Street, from 3rd Street SW to 3rd Street SE

▪ 4th Avenue SW between Meridian and 3rd Street SW

▪ Pioneer Avenue, from 3rd Street SW to 3rd Street SE

▪ Elm Street will be closed beginning at 2 p.m., Thursday, June 15

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