Granite City is full of interesting people who want to make our town great.
Taylor Foster is a young, energetic woman who is determined to make her hometown stand out in a positive way by representing Granite City at the Miss Illinois USA pageant in September.
Taylor, 23, will be heading to Skokie to compete for the title of Miss Illinois USA, and she does not want a big corporate name as her sponsor, instead representing hometown values on a smaller scale on her journey to the spotlight.
“I am the official representative of Granite City,” Taylor said. “I wanted to have my hometown be my sponsor and represent Granite City in a positive way.”
Earlier this year, Taylor competed in the Miss Highland Speedway pageant and placed first runner-up. The director of the pageant, Diane Tye, saw something in Taylor and encouraged her to apply for the Miss Illinois pageant.
The winner of Miss Illinois USA will go on to compete for the title of Miss USA.
“I thought she had what it took to go places,” Tye said. “So we found some other places for her to compete and I’ll be coaching her through it.”
Tye, of Troy, also is executive director for the Miss Madison County Fair Queen Pageant in Highland. In 2012, Tye’s daughter won the title of Madison County Fair Queen and she became involved in organizing and directing local pageants.
A major bonus for pageant entrants is a scholarship to Lindenwood University. According to the Miss Illinois USA website, each contestant will receive scholarships of varying levels if she qualifies.
Taylor was born and raised here in Granite City and graduated from GCHS in 2010. She went to Southwestern Illinois College, where she majored in art. Taylor said she really wants to go back to school to complete her degree. She currently works full time at a loan company in Wood River.
Miss Illinois contestants must be single with no children. Taylor has a very close-knit family. When she was only 3 months old, Taylor’s mother, Tina Foster, began putting her in pageants. She did the baby and child pageant circuit until the age of 6, when she decided to pursue other activities.
“When Taylor was a baby, strangers would tell us we should enter her into pageants,” Tina said. “I decided to try it with her and she won many times.”
Tina said she and her family were a little shocked that Taylor decided to start entering pageants again after 18 years, but they know she has the ability and confidence to do well.
“I am very proud of who Taylor has become,” Tina said. “She has a job and she should pursue what she wants in life. The whole family is supporting her.”
Taylor, along with other contestants, must raise a steep registration fee to go to Skokie in September. They either do this on their own or with corporate sponsorship. Because Granite City itself is her sponsor, Taylor is asking for support of the citizens to help her reach her goals financially to make it to the pageant. She is holding a trivia night July 25 at the Eagles’ FOE 1126 with all proceeds to benefit her entrance fees. Also, Taylor has partnered with Applebee’s in Granite City for a Dining to Donate event on July 7. On this date, 15 percent of every sale goes to Taylor’s fundraiser. Each diner must present a flier for their purchase to count toward the fundraiser. These fliers can be found on Taylor’s Facebook page and also scattered around town.
Many girls have dreams of becoming Miss USA, but it takes courage to do something like this.
“I don’t like to say there is a winner or a loser,” Taylor said. “These ladies have stepped out of their comfort zone to do something a lot of people wouldn’t do, and therefore I believe we’re all winners.”