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No more royalty? Miss Heritage pageant may be ending

New Richmond's royal court appears to be fading away again.

After the New Richmond Area Chamber of Commerce dropped its backing of the Miss New Richmond pageant in 2003, the community was without a reigning queen and her court for a couple years.

But in the fall of 2005, a committed committee of supporters vowed to revive the local royalty idea. They partnered with the New Richmond Heritage Center and crowned the first Miss Heritage.

It lasted for a while.

Three Miss Heritage queens, and their supporting cast, have been crowned in the years that followed.

But last year, when few candidates signed up to participate in the Miss Heritage program, the organizing committee announced it would take a year off and re-organize for 2009.

Now, it appears, there will be no Miss Heritage pageant as part of this September's Heritage Days festivities.

According to Irv Sather, director of the Heritage Center, the pageant volunteers were discouraged by the lack of interest among potential candidates and decided to end the program.

"This queen thing is a lot of work," Sather said.

Signing up candidates, hosting a Queen's tea, planning for the pageant, taking care of visiting royalty and parade planning throughout the year took its toll on the volunteers, he said.

"We only took it on as a sponsor, because we've got enough on our plates already," he said, noting that the Heritage Center organization doesn't have the ability to take over the royal court program by itself.

The time commitment is considerable for the potential candidates as well.

As part of the Miss Heritage commitment, candidates were required to help with several community service projects during the summer. About 200 hours of volunteer time resulted from the requirement.

Among the other criteria the candidates were "judged" on were school grade point average, an essay and community/school involvement.

The candidates were also judged on a personal interview and poise/presentation during coronation festivities.

The winners also had to participate in numerous parades and other events for a full year.

With so many teens being busy with activities throughout the year, Sather said it became tougher to find girls who wanted to try out for the Miss Heritage crown.

Sather said the only hope for the pageant to continue in the future is if another organization steps up and agrees to head up the effort.

"It would be wonderful if someone did take it over," he said.

Sather said other area municipalities, many of which are much smaller than New Richmond, have no problem selecting a royal court each year to represent the community at parades and various functions.

The Heritage Center still has the community float stored for future use, in case the royal court is revived again, he said.

Sather said the Heritage Center would be willing to include a future queen pageant during their annual celebration in September, but if someone wanted to revive the Miss New Richmond pageant and hold it during Fun Fest, he'd be all right with that too.