Parents call St. Louis-area baby pageant 'chaos'

Parents say they spent hundreds of dollars to participate in the Baby Miss America Pageant held in St. Louis on May 5. (KMOV)

Parents say they spent hundreds of dollars to participate in the Baby Miss America Pageant held in St. Louis on May 5.

The pageant was held at a hotel near St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

News 4 Investigates was alerted about Baby Miss America months ago after receiving a complaint from a Wright City mother.

Victoria Haislip told News 4 "I thought it would be fun to enter her."

She said she entered her daughter in the Kansas City Baby Miss America Pageant in 2016 but was disappointed because she didn't receive an expensive pageant book. Haislip said she sold ads totaling $400 for the book, and expected to receive a copy following the pageant but claims it never arrived.

The Houston Better Business Bureau reports Baby Miss America currently has an F rating because of two unresolved complaints, along with an unanswered complaint.

Denisha Maxey described the nature of complaints as, "people entered the pageant. They paid for photo packages, trophies, and not receiving any of the merchandise."

After learning the pageant was recruiting contestants in St. Louis, News 4 attended the pageant and met several unhappy families on May 5.

One woman said, "This is disappointing. We will never be in a pageant again. This is unorganized, screaming kids."

Parents claim the pageant was delayed for several hours, and said the room was extremely hot because the air conditioner wasn't working properly.

One parent told News 4 they wanted their money back because the event was "chaos."

News 4 witnessed several angry parents argue with the pageant director, Sammie Savoie.

Savoie admitted the pageant wasn't going well, saying "I'm sweating, grandmas, baby's they're all sweating."

Savoie said she understands the frustration expressed by some parents, but also said delays are a reality in the pageant business.

"They actually sign rules and regulations please tell your family there will be long lines and delays and when you have this many people there are going to be long lines and delays," she added.

Savoie insists she gives everyone what they pay for and "There's no reason we don't want them to have those memories. What would we gain by keeping them?"

Several parents expressed frustration regarding the hotel facilities.

The hotel owner told News 4 they provided everything requested to Baby Miss America on short notice, and never received a signed contract from the pageant director. He said Savoie received the room for free.

The owner said he would have rented an air conditioner if he knew several hundred people were attending.

Savoie told News 4 she inquired about the hotel facilities on April 6, a month before the pageant.

After leaving St. Louis, Savoie held a Baby Miss America Pageant in Springfield, Missouri.

Several parents from the Springfield pageant contacted KMOV saying the show ran smoothly.

Savoie said her pageant will return to Missouri, but it will not return to St. Louis after she received several threats from parents.

Copyright 2018 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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