Since the age of two, Robstown High School Senior Erika Gonzalez has walked the stage with outstanding beauty and poise. She has earned more than 15 titles and Sr. Miss Cottonfest was one pageant she had her eyes on for quite some time.
“The pageant was here in my community and I wanted to represent Robstown in a positive way,” Gonzalez said. “This was a big accomplishment for me since this was a goal I’ve had.”
Among all her titles, she has won Little Miss Cottonfest, Jr. Miss Cottonfest and now Sr. Miss Cottonfest 2015.
“I was excited and surprised I won,” she said. “I didn’t think I did as well as I wanted to so I was shocked.”
The pageant consisted of western wear, talent, formal wear and a question.
She blew the judges away with her performance of “If you can,” by Tammy Cochran and when she told them her one wish would be to win the pageant to show younger girls that anything is possible.
Gonzalez, daughter of Thomas and Janie Gonzalez, won a $500 scholarship along with the crown and trophy.
For the first time in history, the winner of Sr. Miss Cottonfest has been invited to compete in the Miss American Beauty Pageant in San Antonio with registration paid by Robstown Cottonfest Inc.
Gonzalez hopes to have a good experience in San Antonio and said she will be taking a break from pageants to focus on college.
She plans on attending Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi or University of Texas at San Antonio. Gonzalez hopes to become a Forensic Examiner or a nurse for cancer patients.
The winner of Jr. Miss Cottonfest 2015 was Tuloso-Midway student Naomi Garza, daughter of Gilberto and Maggie Garza.
Along with her crown and trophy, she received a $150 saving bond. Garza also earned the title of Miss Congeniality.
Garza said it was her first time being in a pageant and plans on competing in another in the future.
“I was excited and shocked,” she said. “It was a really good experience and it was nice getting to know all the girls.”
The Miss Cottonfest was different this year since pageant chairman Hector Lopez went “all out” on the event.
When Lopez was selected by the Cottonfest Committee, he didn’t hesitate. As a Robstown native, Lopez said he wants to give back to his community.
He brought judges from outside of the area including 2015 Miss Freer Meghan Scharber and former Miss Freer Angelica Villarreal and Jamye Utley.
“I wanted there to be fairness across the table here,” Lopez said. “I wanted the best person on stage to win and that happened. The judges had never met the young ladies and neither had I.”
Lopez said he made a small pageant into a big one because he wanted the process to run smoothly and without error.
He had two clerks to make sure the judges made no mistakes and three tabulators were calculating the results.
“My main goal was to show these young ladies that no matter what, you can go out there and do the best you can," Lopez said.