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Fathoms needs queen entrants

The Fathoms o’Fun Queen Pageant is looking for a few good contestants.

So far, only three girls from South Kitsap have turned in their applications. Pageant director Deloris Mattson said she’d like to see at least twice that many by the Feb. 8 deadline.

“Usually, we like to have at least six or eight contestants,” she said. “It’s just nicer if we have more. It’s harder to choose a queen from three contestants than from six.”

The trouble often occurs with scheduling conflicts. Because the competing girls have to be between 16 and 21 years old, school activities often get in the way.

In 1997, a disastrous conflict which put the pageant on the same night as the drill team state finals resulted in only one girl applying to compete. Last year, Mattson said twice a many girls told her they would have applied had the pageant not conflicted with a school play.

“Trying to work everything around school is really hard,” she said.

If interest doesn’t pick up for the April 27 pageant, Mattson said, she has permission to seek applicants from Peninsula High School in Gig Harbor. She said she doesn’t think PHS has its own competition, and might be a ready source of applicants.

“If we can’t get them from our school, we’re going to go to other schools,” Mattson said. “We don’t want Fathoms o’Fun to die down.”

The prizes are nothing to sneeze at. The selected queen and her two accompanying “princesses” appear at events and parades as far north as the Canadian border and as far south as Oregon. The winners previously attended the Hyak Festival near Vancouver, but Mattson said security problems at the border will probably make future visits to Canada more trouble than they’re worth.

The pageant committee arranges for trip funding and chaperones, Mattson said, although the girls are on their own for souvenirs.

Apart from travel, however, the winners also get scholarships — $1,000 for the queen and $500 for each of her two attendants.

In addition, use of that money is not limited to four-year institutions. The winners can apply their scholarships to vocational and technical schools, community colleges and others.

These scholarships come from sponsors, which Mattson said she is still in need of. Contestants can also get private sponsors to help off-set the cost of competing.

Although contestants must provide their own wardrobes and equipment for the various events, which include evening gown competition and “artistic expression,” Mattson said girls with a little initiative can avoid paying a dime. She said girls often use their own clothes whenever possible — old prom dresses are a popular source for evening gown wear.

In fact, Mattson said, she will even lend gowns to contestants who need one.

Bay Street business owner Phil McCormick has both sponsored a contestant and judged the pageant. He said he particularly liked seeing the diversity in what the contestants had to offer, and said the experience was a lot of fun.

“I think it opens up a whole bunch of doors and lets them get experience they wouldn’t otherwise get,” McCormick said. “I think anyone who has the opportunity to do it and has ambition should do it.”

Applications are available at the South Kitsap High School career center.

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