Fifty years of show queens

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The country’s longest-running show queen event turns 50 this November and organisers are hoping previous winners and contestants will join the celebrations.

The Clutha Leader sat down recently with the South Otago A and P Society secretary Heather Dudfield, show queen convener Ingrid Keating and former contestants to find out why entering could be life-changingfor young women in the district.

Ms Keating, a show queen in 1985, said it was never about glitz or glamour.

“We are not looking for Barbie dolls; we are all about the personal development of contestants and helping everyone achieve success.

“I entered to improve my confidence and found it was a really good experience that takes you out of your comfort zone.

“It was there I also met the wonderful Lorna Cross, who taught us all how to sit, walk and conduct ourselves as young ladies should,” Ms Keating said.

In 1970 Gayle Lindley, a 17-year-old student nurse, decided to give it a go after the matron had asked her to enter the contest.

“My sister had been in the 1968 contest and enjoyed it, so I gave it a go.

“There were 12 entries and we all had to wear woollen outfits. We were questioned on our rural and general knowledge.

“It was good for your confidence, gave awareness of public speaking, plus it was fun,” Mrs Lindley said.

The format of the event has changed little over the years. Only the fashions and the addition of fundraising for selected charities are different.

Caitlin Gouman was a 19-year-old dental student when she won the contest in 2015.

She had entered because she thought it would be sad not to see it run as there were so few entries at that time.

Overall, she enjoyed the experience and found it very good for her self-confidence.

“It was fun to be involved in a major community event but the speech was a little scary but very rewarding to have completed this part.

“We had lots of fun with the fundraising, running the car wash and quiz night but standing up in front of a big crowd was daunting,” Ms Gouman said.

Last year Ms Gouman helped to coach contestants with their speech-writing, hair, make-up and deportment.

“You feel really special being able to help the girls, lift their confidence levels and prove that they can be part of this special event.”

Entries for the 2018 competition will open in October.