Betty Thompson’s Irish dancing skills have earned her a number of accolades including winning the talent preliminary award at the 2012 Miss America pageant where she finished first runner-up and performing at the World Irish Dance Championships.
The former Miss Oklahoma 2011 will bring those talents to Guthrie on Tuesday, April 16 at the 89er Days Celebration Chuckwagon dinner at the Logan County Fairgrounds from 5-7 p.m. She will perform an Irish dance routine as well as sign autographs and have pictures taken. She will also appear in the 89er Day Parade on Saturday, April 20 at noon in downtown Guthrie.
Thompson, an Oklahoma State University student from Lincoln County, said she has been performing Irish dance for the last 13 years. She recently performed at the 2013 World Irish Dance Championships held in Boston. This was only the second time the championships were held in the United States.
“Irish dancing is my passion,” Thompson said. “It has been for 13 years now. It has taken me to Ireland seven times, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Canada and almost 40 states. Nothing makes me happier than dancing. I will be competing in the world championships for the fifth time Easter weekend.”
Thompson dances with the world known McTeggart Irish Dancers under the instruction of her teacher Maureen McTeggart Hall and Rebekah Roberts. She was the first Oklahoman to reach the open championship level, the highest level of competitive Irish dance. She has qualified for the World Irish Dance Championships seven times and represented Oklahoma and the USA five times.
Thompson has also competed in the All-Ireland Irish Dance Championships and the North American Irish Dance Championships four times where she became the first Oklahoman to medal at both. She has performed with the Chieftans, Riverdance fiddler Eileen Ivers, and Natalie McMaster in numerous concert halls across Oklahoma and Texas.
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Throughout her year as Miss Oklahoma, Thompson promoted her personal platform of Milk, It Really Does a Body Good with organizations such as Dairy Max and Southwest Dairy Farmers. She is actively involved in the Fuel Up to Play 60 program, the New Look of School Milk Campaign as well as Mobile Dairy Classroom. Through her involvement in the industry, Thompson has spoken at numerous dairy conferences and conventions including more than 10 state and national events.
Traveling nearly 30,000 miles across the state of Oklahoma and presenting her program “The Road to Success” at more than 200 school assemblies, Thompson said she strives to motivate students to set goals for their life, make healthy life decisions and have self-respect. The program also emphasizes drug and alcohol awareness and prevention.
“I love going into the schools with my program,” Thompson said. “That is by far one of the best parts about being Miss Oklahoma. The topics I discuss in my program: setting goals, making good decisions and having self-respect are critical for youth today. I hope I was able to make an impact on some of the students I came into contact with the way other speakers impacted me at that age.”
Thompson began competing in the Miss Oklahoma organization in fall of 2008. Her third year at Miss Oklahoma she captured the crown as well as an interview and swimsuit preliminary representing Miss Oklahoma State University.
“The Miss America organization is the only pageant system I’ve ever competed in, and I did not start competing until my sophomore year of college,” Thompson said. “I was looking for scholarship opportunities, and at my brother Nathan’s encouragement to get involved with the world’s leading scholarship provider(Miss America) I competed for and won the title of Miss OSU 2009, and went on to Miss Oklahoma.”
Thompson said competing in the Miss Oklahoma and Miss America pageants have been life-changing moments for her.
“My experience as Miss Oklahoma and competing in Miss America are certainly once in a lifetime,” Thompson said. “It was a wonderful year of service that has shaped my life and open more doors for me than I ever could have dreamed. It really was a dream come true.”
Since giving up the Miss Oklahoma crown, Thompson continues to travel the country to speak and perform at numerous youth conferences, dairy conventions, business and leadership conferences as well as civic organizations and charities. She has also recorded radio promotions and TV commercials.
Thompson is working on her second degree at Oklahoma State University. Her first degree was in elementary education and she is now pursuing a degree and career in agricultural communications.
“After graduating with a degree from the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources with a major in Agricultural Communications I hope to find a job in broadcasting, public relations, or in the agriculture industry,” she said.
The ‘89er Celebration activities this year includes the Chuck Wagon dinner served from 5-7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16 at the Logan County Fairgrounds. The event includes a dinner, auction and an Irish dance performance from Betty Thompson who served as Miss Oklahoma 2011 and was first runner-up in the Miss America pageant. Other events include a carnival from April 17-21; youth all-star baseball game between Guthrie and Edmond on Thursday, April 18; free Guthrie High School Jazz Band concert at the Guthrie Post office on Thursday, April 18; a classic car show on Friday, April 19; a rodeo at the Logan County Fairgrounds Friday April 19 and Saturday April 20 at the Logan County Fairgrounds; Stake Your Claim 5K Run, Saturday, April 20 ; the 89er Day Parade will be held Saturday April 20 at noon with former Devon Energy CEO Larry Nichols and his wife Polly serving as parade grand marshals and “Sunday in the Park” concert on Sunday, April 21 at 1:30 p.m. at Mineral Wells Park.
For more information visit www.89erdays.com.