The various Canal Fest pageants have been taking place for most of the festival's 26 years -- but the allure of that once-prized crown and sash might be slipping.
Kate McGowan, who was a judge at last year's competition and is serving as judges director this year, said she was surprised to find only four girls competing in the teen division last year and only three in the queen division.
McGowan, who took part as a contestant when she was younger, remembers when both divisions had as many as 40 contestants each. She'd like to see those days again.
"Last year, we definitely saw a decrease in numbers from the pageants," she said. "We want a high range of girls from the North Tonawanda and Tonawanda areas to really showcase their talents.
"It's not really a beauty pageant. It's really based on personality and poise and doing good in your community. Fifty percent of the overall score is based on the interview; it's based on your willingness to give back to the community.
"It is a pageant, it's not a beauty pageant; we really want to stress that to girls who want to get involved."
The pageants are traditionally held on the Saturday before the opening of the festival; this year, that will be July 18. The deadline for applications is July 11.
There are six divisions: Canal Fest queen for girls ages 16 to 21; teen princess for girls age 13 to 15; junior princess for girls age 10 to 12; little princess for girls age 7 to 9; tiny princess for girls age 5 and 6; and little mister for boys ages 5 to 8. All ages are as of July 18.
Contestants must be residents of North Tonawanda and the City of Tonawanda and must provide proof of residency.
The four divisions for younger contestants will take place at 11 a.m. July 18, while the teen and queen pageants will begin at 6 p.m. Both will take place at the Riviera Theatre, Webster Street. North Tonawanda.
Additional events are mandatory for those taking part. For more information on those, additional contest rules and an entry form, visit www.canalfest.org/cftpageant.html. Those with questions can email McGowan at [email protected].
Tiny Princess Peyton Langworthy, Junior Princess Arianna Warriner, Canal Fest Queen Victoria Lyle, Teen Princess Alexis Brock, Little Princess Ella Meierer and Little Mister Anthony Billi are shown at the 2014 Canal Fest pageants. (Contributed photos)