Rebecca Yeh never pictured herself as the ‘pageant type.’
As a matter of fact, she had only been in one pageant in her life prior to entering a Detroit Lakes’ Miss Northwest competition a year ago with a goal of someday being crowned Miss Minnesota.
That first pageant was in her aunt’s basement, where a young Rebecca Yeh was competing against her cousins in a heated family competition, she told a room full of Milaca residents at a fund-raiser for the Milaca Bandshell held on Friday, Nov. 8 at the Phoenix Hotel and Conference Center.
Yeh, age 20 of Nisswa and a clinical pharmacist student at Ohio Northern University, was selected as fourth runner-up in the Miss America pageant in September. Yeh competed against 52 other women from the United States, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Miss New York, Nina Davuluri, edged out Yeh for the Miss America crown.
On Nov. 8, more than 200 people turned out in Milaca to see Yeh, who said she has been a violin instructor since she was 13-years-old and performs regularly as a soloist, as a member of a string trio, and occasionally as part of a string quartet.
It was the violin that she played as her talent in the Miss America Pageant on national television — the same talent that drew a crowd to the Phoenix.
The young woman arrived in Milaca at about 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, accompanied by her father Jim. The Yeh’s received a tour of the town, and then visited the Milaca Bandshell, which she was in town to support. She stood on the bandshell stage, but without an audience. The audience would be present a couple hours later. After the town tour, Yeh went to the home of Diane Siemers, where she visited and had a light dinner before the 6 p.m. community event.
During the Miss America pageant, Yeh performed “Scherzo and Tarantella” by Henri Wieniawski. She played two multi-song sets that included “Scherzo and Tarantella” and a rendition of “Yankee Doodle Dandy” that garnered a few laughs from the crowd.
While the crowd enjoyed the music, it might be the personal stories that Yeh shared from stage that people might have enjoyed most.
For example, she talked about her 22-year-old brother with autism, who was diagnosed with the disease at age 4. That led to Yeh’s platform as Miss Minnesota being “A Voice for Autism.”
She also talked about her love for music.
“I would love to perform with the Minnesota Orchestra one day,” she said.
But until that day comes, she has found a different outlet for her music — she figures will never fade away.
“I love sharing music with my church, my family, and my friends,” Yeh said.
“People ask me why I play music,” she continued.
“I do it in order to make change and improve the lives of people,” she said.
“I thank you for allowing me to do that today,” she said.
There were 200 people at the Phoenix Banquet Center thankful that Yeh was willing to share her gift of music.