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2-year-old pageant princess racking up titles

JUSTIN SELLERS/The Natchez Democrat — Abigail Riley, 2, was recently crowned Tiny Miss Natchez and is now gearing up for the 2013 Little Miss Magnolia Pageant. Abigail’s mother, Amanda, started her daughter in pageants at just 3 months old.
JUSTIN SELLERS/The Natchez Democrat — Abigail Riley, 2, was recently crowned Tiny Miss Natchez and is now gearing up for the 2013 Little Miss Magnolia Pageant. Abigail’s mother, Amanda, started her daughter in pageants at just 3 months old.

By April Garon/The Natchez Democrat

When Abigail Riley prances on stage in her pageant dress, all she wants to do is perform.

“She is just a little kid having fun,” Abigail’s mother Amanda Riley said. “She doesn’t think about winning, she just wants to be on stage.”

But the outgoing 2-year-old has placed well in more than 40 pageants in her young life, with many crowns and sashes to show as proof. She’s been in the pageant circuit most of her life —her mother decided to put her in a pageant at just 3 months old.

“There are not a lot of activities available in the area for kids under the age of 3,” Amanda Riley said. “I decided we would try one and see how it went.”

It went very well, and Abigail won a streak of titles, including the most recent “Tiny Miss Natchez.”

“It really surprised me, she did really well. I about fell out of my chair,” Riley said.

Much preparation goes into each pageant. Abigail’s grandmother, Becky Riley, helps pack up the array of dresses and accessories, which are loaded for travel to each event. They choose a few dresses from the dozens that line Abigail’s closet in “any color you can imagine.”

“It takes a couple days to pack everything,” Becky Riley said. “We will have two or three bags full of dresses, shoes socks and bands.”

Abigail’s mother scouts out the competition before deciding on the final dress and ensemble of accessories. However, the Rileys do not believe makeup is the right choice for Abigail.

“The natural look is better; we don’t want to over do it,” Becky Riley said. “It’s a little too much for kids her age.”

In 2012, she won her division in the Little Miss Jim Bowie, Little Miss Autumn and Christmas Queen pageants.

Abigail is now gearing up for her next pageant, the 2013 Little Miss Magnolia Pageant on July 27.

Abigail is a natural in the limelight, said her mother.

“She gets up there and smiles and makes jokes,” Amanda Riley said. “The audience plays along with her. I have to keep her off the stage when it isn’t her turn.”

But Abigail isn’t just a pageant queen — her mother said she is a tomboy who loves to ride on four-wheelers with her parents and play in the dirt. She even has a pet raccoon that follows her around.

“She will get out into a mud hole in a second and be muddy from head to foot and have the best time,” Becky Riley said.

Her favorite song is “Gangnam Style” by Psy, but her mom said any song by Elvis will get her dancing.

“She is so outgoing and fun loving. She is just a real character,” Amanda Riley said.