This is the scenario three teenage beauty queens hope will clinch Friday's Miss Greenbelt competition:

Heartthrob Ricky Martin needs a dancer for his stage show. Three aspiring dancers and best friends--portrayed by 16-year-old Eleanor Roosevelt High School juniors Pamela Brewster, Anna Quintanilla and Ingrid Landaverde--want the position. Badly.

Forgetting their vows of friendship, the girls literally draw blood while vying for the spot. In the end, someone else comes out of nowhere to claim the prize.

The moral of the story? "Friendship is more important, because we turn against each other and we end up not making it," Quintanilla says of the skit the girls composed for the talent segment of the Miss Greenbelt Pageant.

"Sometimes people turn against each other for things that are not that big of a deal."

It is a lesson that the girls vow to remember as they compete in the 61-year-old pageant, which aims to determine which contestant is the most talented, congenial, spirited and photogenic.

The contest features three age groups, Little Miss Greenbelt (7 to 10), Junior Miss Greenbelt (11 to 13) and Miss Greenbelt (14 to 19). There is no cash award for the younger categories, but Miss Greenbelt contestants compete for a $1,000 scholarship, as well as the honor of representing Greenbelt at dozens of community events throughout the year-long reign. Other top-place finishers receive awards of $125 and $75.

The pageants are among the events planned for the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, which runs Friday through Monday. The festival's attractions include live music, cloggers, clowns and face painting. There also will be art exhibits, a parade and a carnival.

Admission is free, but the food and carnival booths are operated by local groups as fund-raisers for service organizations in Greenbelt.

The pageant, which began in 1938, is one of the festival's most eagerly anticipated events. Contest officials say it has come a long way since 1955, when contestants were judged on the basis of who had the most pennies tossed into their respective collection jars.

"I like to think it's more friendly for the girls," says Natasha Jewell, who has helped run the pageant for the past 16 years. She says today's participants are more diverse and that there is more bonding between competitors than there was in 1983, when her piano rendition of "Could It Be Magic" earned her the Miss Greenbelt title.

"They form friendships, and it's less competitive," Jewell says. "We don't base it on beauty, we have all shapes, sizes and nationalities." Pageant officials long ago abandoned the swimsuit competition, and they've also made the talent portion optional.

The three performing the Ricky Martin skit originally were planning to dance but decided to do a skit that capitalized on the Latin pop star's popularity.

"I like his music," Quintanilla says. "It's really danceable, and we thought [the skit] would be funny. Put some humor into it."

The girls say that what started out as just a way to pass the summer produced wonderful friendships. Although Quintanilla and Landaverde already knew each other from the Hispanic Heritage club at their high school, they had seen Brewster around school but didn't know her.

Apparently graciousness is another of the pageant's side effects. Quintanilla and Landaverde praise Brewster for coming up with the skit's concept, but she refuses credit.

"We just all got together and collaborated," Brewster says.

The 45th Annual Greenbelt Arts Festival is Friday, 6:45 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, 11 a.m. to midnight; and Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Roosevelt Center Mall, Crescent and Southway roads, Greenbelt. The Miss Greenbelt contest opens Friday at 8:15 p.m. with a dance performance by the contestants. The talent competition is Saturday at 7:15 p.m. The evening wear and public speaking competitions and the crowning of winners are Sunday at 6 p.m. For more information, call 301-397-2206.

CAPTION: Pamela Brewster, left, Ingrid Landaverde and Anna Quintanilla, all 16, practice their skit for the Miss Greenbelt Pageant.