Trail’s Silver City Days celebrates a half-century of civic celebration this year and for most of the past 50 years there has been a Miss Trail chosen to lead the festivities.
Apart from a brief period in the early part of the 2000’s when no one stepped forward to organize the event, there has been a long succession of tiaras and ball gowns, talent shows and tears of joy.
So this year when the organizing committee was trying to decide how they could celebrate the 50th anniversary of the pageant they decided to go big and invite all the former Miss Trail winners back.
“It’s been a lot of work to go back over 50 years of pageant winners and try to track them down,” explained Trail councillor, Eleanor Gattafoni-Robinson. “But so far, as of today, we think we have 25 women coming.”
The committee started with a local word of mouth campaign to start gathering information on past winners of the pageant and eventually enlisted the help of the Trail Historical Society to help with the research.
“We’ve been working on this since 2012,” said Gattafoni-Robinson. “It’s been a real history lesson for myself.
“We did an Internet search and spoke to family members and really tried not to leave anybody out. We looked for anybody who might have connections and were hoping to meet them all.”
The positive responses from former Miss Trail winners has them returning to Trail from all over B.C., a few from Alberta, quite a number who are still local, and even an international Miss Trail.
“We’ve even got one coming from Australia, Shawna Hardwick (Fraser) from 1983,” said Gattafoni-Robinson. “I think it speaks volumes on how they perceived the program and what it did for them that so many are coming and from so far away.”
Gattafoni-Robinson stressed that the program was not just a beauty pageant and that the young women who participate get the opportunity to travel the province representing Trail and this area at various community celebrations around B.C. The contestants obtain public speaking and presentation experience and are encouraged to volunteer in the community.
“When they come in to the program many are timid young women and leave much more poised and know how to present themselves more confidently,” said Gattafoni-Robinson. “In speaking to the women who have responded and are coming back, they all seem to have made a contribution to their communities and I think this program has something to do with that. It’s been an enlightening experience for me.”
Of course it has to be fun for everyone as well. The committee is trying to get the local car club involved hoping to provide the Miss Trail returnees with cars from the same year as they won the pageant to provide them with a classic ride for the parade.
The committee is hoping to be able to contact more of the past contestants and there is still organizing to be done once they have final numbers but so far the event is coming together well.
“This has been a been a very fulfilling project,” said Gattafoni-Robinson. “I know many of the women still have family roots in Trail but I also think it’s about what they gained from the program and what it brought into their lives that brings them back. That’s what the program is all about.”