In the library’s ongoing quest to catalog and file every photo, magazine article, newspaper clipping, old document, and any other kind of local history tidbit, I came this week to the file dedicated to the Miss Webster pageant. The pageant is one of the most popular and enduring of the events held annually at our Community Days Festival, and there has long been significant media attention to it.
In decades past Miss Webster had more ‘official duties,’ such as meeting with the mayor and city council and attending important municipal events: all of this is attested by charming old news photos, such as those showing a beaming teenage girl standing among a group of somber, dark-suited councilmembers.
Many of the photos we have come from the collection of John W. Cooper, Jr., who was a councilmember for ten years, starting in 1960, and then mayor from 1970 to 1986. It was during his tenure, and largely due to his work and influence, that Community Days grew to the important local celebration that is still is today. He was also a great fan of taking snapshots, and so we have this archive of photos, including this one of the 1962 court in all its summertime splendor.
A while back we worked very hard to compile a list of all the winners of the pageant over the years, particularly the early years from 1960 to 1985, which Mayor Cooper’s photos cover. The only years we could not figure out were 1969 and 1985. So if anyone reading this knows who won in those years, please let us know.
Perhaps what we call ‘beauty pageants’ carry a little cultural baggage these days, but I don’t foresee any popular movement to get rid of our Miss Webster Pageant. It is an integral part of the city’s long-time Fourth of July celebration, one of the best celebrations in the region.