By Kendra Hennis
The 2020 Miss Tuscola pageant was originally set to happen on March 28. That is, until the coronavirus pandemic brought life as we knew to a screeching halt. After lots of discussion, and many tentative dates, pageant directors Emily Hallett and Denise Groves held the annual Miss Tuscola Pageant on Tuesday, June 2 at Ervin Park. With the Reopen Illinois plan still calling for social-distancing and small groups, the event was held at staggered times and limited attendants to the families of the hopeful queens-to-be while it live streamed it on the Miss Tuscola Facebook Page.
The 2020 Little Miss Tuscola was named as Avery Cleland. Kate Foltz was crowned the 2020 Junior Miss Tuscola, with Elizabeth Quinn named Miss Congeniality for the group. The Miss section of the pageant crowned Kali Pierce as this year’s Miss, Hannah Lemay was named Miss Congeniality and 1st runner up, and Sara Kremetzki was named second runner-up.
I got a chance to follow up with Pierce following this year’s event to talk pageants during a global pandemic.
What year in school are you?
I am a senior at Tuscola High School.
Why did you decide to participate in the pageant?
My pageant Director, Denise Groves, really helped me make the decision about doing the pageant this year. I was really hesitant about doing another pageant after the death of my grandfather, but Denise has been really supportive and gave me more of a positive outlook on doing another pageant.
What was your favorite part of the day?
I loved every part of the day! Everyone worked so hard preparing for the pageant and really kept a good attitude about everything considering the circumstances.
What feeling did you have when being crowned?
I was thrilled when I was crowned! I knew it was going to be a very unique and special year for my queens and I.
Why are you most excited about being Miss Tuscola?
I am most excited about being able to represent my hometown this year.
What event are you anticipating the most this year?
I am really excited for the whole year! With all the uncertainty of what we are going to be able to do this year due to COVID-19, I think it will give us an opportunity to expand our horizons and try some new things out.
What was most different about this year’s pageant?
Due to social distancing constraints, we could only have immediate family at the pageant. However, the pageant was streamed live so everyone could see!
The car parade is a new addition to this year’s pageant. Is there any talk about making this a permanent addition?
Yes! We were so happy with the number of family members, friends, and residents who turned out to watch the parade and cheer us on. We really appreciated the support, and it was so much fun, we would love to make it a tradition.
With the Governor canceling fairs this summer, is there any talk of competition on the county pageant level?
Unfortunately the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair Pageants have been cancelled, as well as the Illinois County Fair Queen Pageant in January. Our Directors, Denise and Emily, have assured us, however, that if next year’s pageant is still held in March, they will sponsor the 2020 queens as well as the 2021 queens in the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair Queen Pageants.
Do you have a message for the City of Tuscola?
Thank you! Thank you for allowing the 2020 pageant to go on and for granting us the ability to volunteer this next year within our community and represent our home town Tuscola!