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Published June 10 2012

VIDEO: Rosemary Sauvageau of Fargo crowned Miss North Dakota

FARGO – And to think, she almost didn’t enter the competition.

Rosemary Sauvageau was ready to throw in the towel after finishing as second runner-up in 2010 and first runner-up in 2011 in the Miss North Dakota pageant. But her mother convinced her to give it one last shot this year.

“And I’m glad she did,” Sauvageau said Sunday, less than 24 hours after being crowned Miss North Dakota in Williston on Saturday night.

The Williston Herald reported that the judges were “blown away” by Sauvageau’s piano playing and on-stage interview.

In that interview, “Rosie” talked about how she plans to market her platform – “Celebrate Diversity: One State, All People” – through music, including performing in concert and for music classes at schools, she said.

“The idea that I have would be to really connect with people through music, which is my connector,” said Sauvageau, who played part of “Hot Honey Rag” from the musical “Chicago” for the judges.

Sauvageau said she is passionate about diversity, having grown up black in a predominantly white state. She said the experience was overwhelmingly positive, but there were struggles along the way, and she hopes others who are struggling can draw from her experiences.

Being the first African-American crowned Miss North Dakota shows the progress that has been made, she said.

“I think that’s a testament to our state, which is good,” she said.

Sauvageau, this year’s Miss Fort Abercrombie, now advances to the Miss America 2013 competition in Las Vegas in January.

The 2005 Shanley High School homecoming queen and 2010 graduate of Concordia College currently works as a freelance piano accompanist in Fargo. At 24 years old, this was the last year she could compete for Miss North Dakota.

“So it was kind of like now or never, literally,” she said.

While her mother, Sharon, remained calm in the audience, Sauvageau wasn’t able to contain herself when her name was called as the winner.

“I flipped out,” she said. “You always think you’ll be so calm if that happens, and be gracious. I was shocked.”

First runner-up was Miss Oil Country Becca Lebak, a newsroom assistant at WDAY-TV; second runner-up was Miss Badlands Meagan McDougall; and third runner-up was Miss Eastern Dakota Laura Harmon.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528