Highland Maple Queen Contest Cancelled

Hello – This is Missy Moyers-Jarrells, with the Highland County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

The Highland County Chamber of Commerce regrettably announces the cancellation of the 2023 Maple Queen Pageant due to a lack of participants.  A minimum of five contestants was not reached in a timely manner to effectively hold the pageant.  The Chamber would like to thank all of the individuals who have shown support and interest this year.

Unfortunately, participation in the pageant has been dwindling for years.  In 2019, there were eight contestants.  In 2020, there were six.  In 2022, there were only five.  In December of 2022, announcements were made at the school of a meeting for those interested in participating in the 2023 pageant, with no changes initially presented.  However, only one participant and one teacher showed up to this meeting.  In response to this lack of interest, feedback was gathered on potential improvements for the pageant to get more contestants.  Changes were made to entice, not hinder, participation.  An increase to a minimum of $500 would be awarded to the Court.  The responsibilities of the contestants to obtain sponsorships was removed, and the Chamber would assume this task.  A talent portion for the contestants to showcase one of their passions was added.  Before and after the Maple Festival, the opportunities for public service and civic engagement would increase, such as becoming an honorary Chamber Board Member, while the encouragement to attend multiple parades was removed.  The deadline for applications was set for January 6, 2023.  No applications were received.  The Chamber extended the deadline to the end of the day on January 12, with announcements made at the school for several days that five applications would be needed to successfully proceed.  The Chamber only received three applications.  Throughout the process, whether at the initial meeting with no changes presented or with the slight increase of participation with the changes, there was not enough interest from the eligible pool of contestants themselves to proceed.

This decision is not an easy one, and as with the loss of any traditional event, there will be many disheartened by the outcome this year.  The Chamber shares in those feelings.  However, this is an opportunity to continue the spirit of the Maple Queen Pageant with a revitalized ambassador program in 2024.  The pause in 2023 will allow space to engage the student body directly to determine the next best steps forward to showcasing the outstanding young individuals of Highland County.  This is also an opportunity for constructive feedback and suggestions from the community to engage in reformation of this tradition.

The Highland County Chamber of Commerce is grateful for all of the past Maple Queens and Princesses who represent our community so well.  We are thankful for everyone who has worked diligently to make the pageant run successfully.  We look forward to a re-energized program in 2024.

The Highland County Chamber of Commerce can be reached at 540-468-2550 or director@highlandcounty.org.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott Smith is the General Manager for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has previously taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle. scott@amrmail.org

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