Pretty girls in pretty dresses. Beauty pageant queens, in their crowns and sashes, waving at crowds from the back of convertibles, hoping for world peace and a great tan. Isn’t this a common perception of royalty programs?
The new coordinators for the Fairhaven Royal Ambassadors are hoping to change that perception. Under the direction of a whole new Old Settlers Day Committee, chaired by Pam Schindele, the royalty program has undergone an overhaul that is much overdue. To begin with, no longer will there be a Queen and Princesses. Instead, there will be three equal Royal Ambassadors to represent the Old Settlers Picnic and community of Fairhaven. A Miss Congeniality will be chosen by her fellow candidates, but she will receive a gift instead of a crown and will not participate in parades and other events. Both changes bring Fairhaven in line with other towns and festivals.
Along with changes comes an overhaul of judging criteria. In the past, as much as 65 percent of judging was based on personal appearance and poise, with only 15 percent allotted for initiative, participation, and leadership combined. New coordinators Janessa Dahle, Pam Matthieson, Jody Markgraf, and Tara Matthieson have spent hours poring over the old program, comparing it to other programs and, most importantly, the needs of today’s young woman. They believe the changes they made more appropriately address how to best serve a modern young woman while still respecting Old Settlers traditions. A job description was created for the position of Royal Ambassador and candidates were given instruction to create cover letters and résumés to apply for the positions. The résumés and cover letters will be evaluated and awarded points by the judges.
Additionally, instead of requiring a Fairhaven history essay, which only the judges saw, and was not found on the score sheet, candidates will prepare a history presentation for the board, highlighting an aspect of Fairhaven’s past. These projects will be judged and on display during the picnic for all attendees to see.
Candidates will keep the traditions of the baked goods basket auction, and of helping with the old-fashioned games in the park. Instead of being treated to a BBQ by the Old Settlers committee, the candidates will prepare and serve the BBQ to committee members and sponsors. In these events, candidates are evaluated on their participation and teamwork, as well as social appropriateness. The only consideration given to appearance at all concerns candidates meeting the guidelines of formal dress code for parade and coronation, which stress modesty and age-appropriateness.
Based on surveys collected from past royalty and conversations with former royalty parents, two important elements that were missing have received special attention from new coordinators. Communication with candidates is a focus item, and to address this, both a Facebook page and website www.fairhavenambassadors.com, have been created. Mentorship is the other element that current coordinators are committing to make a strong part of the ambassador program. Coordinators will not merely schedule parades, but will create opportunities for the young women to expand their horizons, and will be in attendance at all ambassador functions.
Yes, they will wear sashes. Yes, they will wear pretty dresses and really sparkly crowns and ride in convertibles. But with the changes in the Fairhaven Old Settlers Day Royal Ambassador Program, those pretty girls are preparing to meet life at the end of the parade. And that’s something for Fairhaven to be proud of.
Submitted by Jody Markgraf