National American Miss is a wonderful event. My daughter has been in it a couple of times and LOVES it. I do have to agree, the first person who posted an answer gave some answers that are really just stereotypes about pageants in general. It is clear that she has not been to NAM. That's ok. There are actually pageants like what she is talking about, for sure. But this one is not like that at all.
With that out of the way, the simplest thing to say is that NAM is not a typical beauty pageant, in fact, it is not a beauty-based pageant at all. It is a new concept.
Oh, and yes, of course, there are fees to be in it. Any real pageant, sport, dance class, or other event does indeed have fees. You should be wary of any actual event that claims it is "free."
My daughter talked me into going to the Open Call a few years ago. Glad she did. This all turned out to be a wonderful thing for her, and I am thankful for it as a parent. The open call is just an information session where the organization tells you what NAM is about, and if you want you can apply at that time. We were there about an hour.
A great thing to do is to go online to youtube, search for "National American Miss" and see the videos that real world participants have uploaded to share their own personal journey at NAM.
I have pasted links to some of those, as well as other information sources, for you below. There is a large community of people out there who have participated in NAM and you can see what the actual conversations are about by looking at the Facebook and blog communiites. I put those links below.
Here's another great way to do your homework on this. The Better Business Bureau (which I checked when my daughter wanted to be in NAM and I saw that the BBB gives National American Miss an "A" rating) suggests when you are checking out a pageant, you should call the facility where the event is being held and ask if it is actually contracted there. So, one of the links below is to a page that has all of the National American Miss events listed by state, including the actual address of the facility where the event is being held. Look at your state's event and call the facility.
Best wishes in your journey!