Here she is ... Miss Somernites ... or at least, she’ll be here soon.
Once upon a time, a queen was crowned each Somernites Cruise season to help celebrate the local classic and custom car show. For 2023, the Somerset Junior Woman’s Club is bringing back the Somernites Cruise Pageants, for a wide variety of ages and types of contestants.
“Obviously, Somernites Cruise has been such a huge tourism draw in our community,” said Wynona Padgett of the Somerset Junior Woman’s Club. “Every big event, every festival, every fair, always has a royal court. A lot of times those who are in those royal courts are there to help present awards. They are there to have pictures taken with people who might come in.
“That is really what (this is about) and it’s just a nice tie-in to encourage young people to get involved with, number one, the Junior Woman’s Club or their moms eventually, and also to encourage the love of these classic vehicles and hopefully encourage more people to be involved with Somernites Cruise,” she added. “Somernites Cruise is an all-volunteer group. I’m sure that they’d love to have some more volunteers to help them on theirr fourth Saturdays. Hopefully, (the pageant) fosters that complete community service and spirit.”
The Somernites Cruise Pageants will be held at The Center for Rural Development theater on Saturday, March 11, starting at 4 p.m.
Females up to age 20, and males up to age 5 are eligible to participate for all sorts of titles.
Ages 0-11 months, boys and girls, are in the “Wee” category. Ages 12-23 months are “Tiny Tots.” Ages 2-3 years are “Tiny Miss and Mister.” Girls ages 4-6 and boys 4-5 are “Little Miss and Mister.”
Going on for the girls, ages 7-9 compete for “Young Miss,” 10-12 for “Princess,” 13-16 for “Miss Teen Somernites” and those ages 17-20 can try for the title of Miss Somernites Cruise.
The limit of participants in each category is 20. Legal residents from the following counties are eligible: Pulaski, Casey, Laurel, Lincoln, McCreary, Rockcastle, Russell and Wayne.
The Miss Teen Somernites and Miss Somernites winners will come to shows and represent the Cruise in various capacities, though Padgett noted that any of the winners are welcome to come to their shows and wear their crown and sash.
“They may be at the DJ stand and helping out some (raffle) winners,” said Padgett of the winners’ duties. “We hope that they will be around to take photos with the person who came the farthest for that Cruise, or take pictures with the kids to encourage kids to get involved. Kids love princesses, so any time they see someone walking around with a sash and a crown, they’re going to want to get their picture taken with them. We’ll encourage them to maybe be in the Christmas Parade, or to attend other events wearing their crowns and sashes, and just to be a very visible part of the event.”
Best of all, the Miss Somernites winner will win a cash scholarship of at least $500, and winners in other categories will take home their crown and sash.
Contestants in the Miss Somernites and Miss Teen Somernites will write an essay as part of their competition, as well as 10-minute interviews.
“(The essays is) nothing elaborate, it’s something that they’ll enjoy writing,” said Padgett, who noted that there will also be a community service opportunity in which contestants may participate. “A good example is, in the past, we had all of them collect food for God’s Food Pantry.”
Padgett noted that the purpose of the pageant is to find “wholesome children and young women to represent the values and goals of the Somerset Junior Woman’s Club and Somernites Cruise Management Team.” As such, the pageants do not focus heavily on glamour, but rather on natural beauty, personality, confidence, and attributes associated with good character.
“When we say ‘natural beauty’ it’s simply because we do not allow a lot of make-up or anything like that,” said Padgett. “Especially with young women, we want them to be as natural as possible. Obviously, 17-20-year-olds wear make-up, but we don’t want them putting on so much make-up you can’t even see their face. It’s not a beauty pageant. You don’t have to be beautiful to win it. That’s not what it’s all about.”
Padgett said that there will be vendors in the lobby area of The Center for the event.
Registration will open February 1 (the website for registration is not yet available; mail registration is also available) and will close February 28. Entry fee is $35 for ages 0-9, and $45 for ages 10-20.
The pageant was held in the earlier days of Somernites Cruise, but it’s not taken place for over a decade now. But those behind the Cruise are happy to have it back as a part of the festivities every April through October.
“We’re excited that the Somerset Junior Woman’s Club has brought (the pageants) back,” said Somernites Cruise Executive Director Keith Floyd. “We’re looking forward to it and are happy to support it. ... It’s just another way that we’re tied to the community. We’re honored that other organizations want to be tied to Somernites Cruise. It’s an honor that they want to do that.”