Open to the public, the free event on Saturday will feature nearly 25 local and regional vendors with products and services related to health, beauty, fitness and fashion.
"It kind of goes hand in hand, obviously," said Regina Wheeler, deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau, the pageants' host organization. "The pageant contestants are coming in for orientation and with that they are still planning their clothing, their accessories, their makeup, their hair, how they're going to wear things. I don't know if people realize but in this particular pageant, while they can have someone do their hair in advance of the pageant to show them how to do it, the girls have to do all this themselves. They don't have a beautician backstage with them doing their hair or makeup. So this is all truly representative of [themselves]. But leading up to the pageant, just like girls would train in a workout, they also train on things such as fashion and accessories and those type of things, just picking the right package if you will.
"So [for businesses] related to those [areas] or just simply wanting to reach this market, that's why we opened Runway Ready -- to allow people to come in to present their products. ... It [also] is open for the public. It's not just for the pageant girls. So people who are wanting to get a taste of what these pageants are like may want to come and see or people who are just wanting to get out and about. It's a free event. There's a lot of good products that will be displayed and people can learn a lot of information."
The Runway Ready Expo also will serve as a fundraiser, generating money for the local CVB to host the pageants at Woodland High School's Performing Arts Center Nov. 19 and 20. By paying a $500 or $750 fee, vendors will be able to participate in Saturday's event and also receive advertising benefits regarding the pageants.
Charged with raising $25,000, the CVB is seeking sponsorships, financial contributions and in-kind donations to help cover the costs. The top expenditures will include renting the WHS' Performing Arts Center, supplying transportation and providing meals to the contestants and crew, which will cost nearly $6,000, $5,900 and $5,000, respectively.
"We're at the end of our second two-year contract," said Ellen Archer, executive director for the local CVB. "I don't know if we'll do it again or not. I'm inclined to because of all the reasons we always saw before. When you look at the hard numbers, I know ... it's well over $250,000 for direct expenditures generated here in the community, besides the fact that all the money that we raise to put the pageant on is spent locally, all of it.
"So I feel good about it. If we put $15,000 in it, I know that brings in 1,500 people. If I were to put a full page ad in the Georgia Travel Guide -- one full page ad in the state sponsored travel guide -- that's over $19,000 and I never know whether they actually come or not. So the good thing about [it] is when you're really talking dollars and cents I do know it generates, and I think it's good for the community and I know it brings people here. It's good for us."
For more information about volunteering or providing in-kind donations, individuals need to contact Wheeler at the CVB, 770-387-1357. Along with showcasing their products at the Expo, businesses also still can become a sponsor of the pageant, but Friday will mark the end of many of the promotional benefits.
Tickets for the Miss Georgia USA and Miss Georgia Teen USA pageants can be purchased through the CVB starting Monday. The preliminary contests on Nov. 19 will cost $30, which includes both the teen and Miss Georgia USA competitions, and the Nov. 20 final shows' tickets will be $35 each.