Miss Frazee and teen pageant provide benefits for contestants
By Barbie Porter
Miss Frazee Delaney Matejka and Miss Frazee Outstanding Teen Braylee Riewer will conclude the first ever two-year reign on Saturday, July 24 at 7 p.m.
Riewer said her teen title gave her a number of opportunities to get involved in the community and events hosted in the lakes area. While being part of parades and meeting new friends wass fun, she said the most noticeable impact having the title had on her was with self-confidence. She explained the interaction required of being a title holder, as well as the need to do interviews with media and host events for her platform, gave her confidence.
Riewer’s platform focused on mental, physical and spiritual health awareness. She hosted events, such as, bike rides, runs and taught Bible school for kindergartners. She said when people showed to support the events it left an impression on her and gave her a sense of appreciation for those that helped her make a good impact. Among those always providing support were the pageant directors: Alice Furey, Jay Estenson and Heather Perrine.
“They deserve a big thanks,” Riewer said, adding they became part of her family. “They helped me a lot and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Estenson and Furey began helping with the pageant around the same time.
“I started by sponsoring a girl,” Estenson recalled. “At that time Karen Daggett and Bev Mitchell were in charge.”
Eventually, the previous directors were ready to retire and they handed the reigns to Estenson and Furey. Perrine joined the team a few years back.
“Alice and Heather are fantastic co-directors,” Estenson said. “We each bring special skills to make the production go smoothly.”
While Estenson is often in charge of cooking any food for fundraisers, she also pays the bills on behalf of the pageant. Furey is the hands-on director that helps the contestants or other directors as well as creating posters and promotional materials. Perrine is the one that tackles all the paperwork as the winners are able to compete for the Miss Minnesota and Miss Minnesota Outstanding Teen titles.
The pageant is considered a closed pageant, meaning it is only open to those attending the Frazee-Vegas School District, or for those who are homeschooled and utilize the school for sports and so forth. Estenson said they have held tight to that tradition because that ensures all scholarships and donations stay local.
“I think it has attributed to the success of our program as well,” she said.
One perk of being a director has been watching young talent grow in a matter of weeks. She explained when some contestants join the pageant, they may seem a bit rough around the edges, but the experience provides them with a new sense of self worth, and gives them with a number of friends to support them in their life journey.
Estenson recalled one year the pageant had 13 contestants, this year the pageant will have three vying for the crown of Miss Frazee and four going out for the teen title. Estenson said COVID-19 did hurt some pageants, with some area programs going into their second year without an event being held.
“That is too bad because I don’t think a lot of people realize how much they (queens) get involved in the community and all the work these girls do,” she said. “And their families.”
For example, one may be hard pressed to attend a local event and not find a queen welcoming guests or at the helm of the event itself.
With less events to attend in 2020, Estenson said the Miss Frazee crew didn’t rest on their laurels. Instead they decided it was time to give the parade float a makeover.
“We used the same colors, but gave it a new look,” she said. “Each past queen also had a poster board made of them, which will be on display at the pageant this year.”
Estenson applauded the local businesses who continually donate to scholarships and all those who attend the biscuit and gravy fundraiser during Turkey Days, as it pays for the sound director at the main event.
“And, I want to say thank you to all those that go to the pageant,” she said.
Perrine joined the directors crew when Estensen approached her a few years back. She she was happy to step up and help because she learned from her pageant experiences how much of an impact the programs have on young women.
“We tell our kids that are running that no matter how the judges vote, you will learn something,” she said. “Win or lose, you take something away from this experience. It’s more than just competing.”
Perrine reflected what Riewer shared about her reign; it allowed her to improve her interview skills, which, in turn, made finding a job easier. She also noted scholarships help immensely when heading to college.
“The Frazee pageant gives out more scholarships than any other local pageant in Minnesota,” Perrine said. “And each contestant gets something.”
Beyond the financial assistance and life skills, Perrine said she still has friends she made 13 years ago when she ran for the Miss Becker County title.
“It is truly a network of pageant sisters you gain by running,” she said. “And we all aim to make it a fun experience.”