Miss Oak Harbor to reign once more in 2021

— Created November 25, 2020 by Kathy Reed

By Kathy Reed

After a three year hiatus, there will be a Miss Oak Harbor crowned again in 2021.

Board president and Pageant Director River Powers has taken up the mantle of Miss Oak Harbor, bringing the scholarship pageant back for a new round of competition, albeit virtually in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An online organizational meeting is planned for 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 2 for all those interested in learning more. Details are available at www.missoakharbor.com. The original Miss Oak Harbor, which held its first competition in 2015 and ran through 2018, came to an end following the departure of founder Jes Walker Wyse and the PageantWyse organization.

The loss of the program, which awarded tens of thousands of dollars over its four year run, left a void.

“We decided to disband PageantWyse and not produce the pageant when Jes left,” said Powers, who worked with Walker Wyse to begin the original program. “We had a small board of directors at the time and it was just too much. So we did disband. It was a sad time.

“But over the past two-and-a-half years, so many parents, past contestants and potential contestants have asked me to do it again,” Powers continued. “So I decided last year to put out some feelers to gauge whether if I started a new nonprofit, people would be interested in joining the board. The response was wonderful and we have a nice, strong board of directors.”

Powers said the new Miss Oak Harbor organization has been able to build upon the foundation laid by PageantWyse. Of course, a global pandemic has forced the new board to reinvent how to hold such an event in times of COVID-19.

Powers said they have been fortunate in that the program was already well established so the competition will be able to pick up where it left off.

“I would say this will be a comparable product because by 2018, we had really perfected our model,” she said. “So by tweaking it for a virtual environment we are able to offer different components that will appeal to different contestants. I’m not saying it’s better, it will just be different.”

The Miss Oak Harbor Scholarship Pageant’s mission remains providing scholarships for young women who are interested in advancing their education. In its first four years, Miss Oak Harbor awarded more than $51,000 in scholarships. That kind of money can be life changing, according to Powers.

“It is a lot of money,” she said. “We gave out $17,089 in our last year. That could be life changing. One of our contestants paid for her entire first year of college with the scholarships she earned.”

The Miss Oak Harbor organization seeks to offer a competition that embodies the “four points of the crown – scholarship, service, success and style,” according to its website. It is not a competition based on looks, Powers said.

“Miss Oak Harbor is not a beauty pageant,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for high school girls of all types to participate in an event that’s about empowerment. There are 10 scoring categories, all equally weighted, that embrace the entire person. Not a single one has to do with looks, unless you consider formal wear, but that’s more about poise than appearance.”

Categories include academics, attendance, marketing, personal interview, screen presence, speech/talent, style and self expression, to name some. Other categories have been modified slightly to fit health regulations, such as physical fitness.

“We’ve changed that to health and wellness, which will be a video diary,” Powers said. “Each week contestants will submit a short video to tell us – privately – what they did for their own personal health and wellness that week.”

The competition is open to up to 25 ninth through 12th grade students who identify as female and live or attend school in the Oak Harbor School District. All events during the six week competition leading up to pageant night will be conducted virtually and most of the judging will be completed prior to the final night of the competition on March 13.

“This will be a livestream event,” Powers said. “The only people physically at the event will be board members, contestants and judges – all masked and following COVID protocols – and everything will be livestreamed for all viewers.

“We are not going to sell tickets to this,” she continued. “The contestants are going to sell programs prior to pageant night so whoever wants to join on the night of the pageant can follow along.”

Because 2020 has been a difficult year, Powers said it has been tougher than normal to find sponsors for the event. Anyone who is interested in donating to the nonprofit or who wishes to learn more about sponsorships can do so by going to the website: www.missoakharbor.com. Powers did note the Miss Pioneer Way pageant will also be continuing for girls up to age 14. That competition is held in the summer and is run by the Miss Oak Harbor and Miss Teen Oak Harbor royalty as part of the court’s service project.

Powers said she thinks entering the pageant is a great opportunity for people interested in their own personal growth, since the competition teaches important life skills such as interviewing, poise under pressure and working toward a common goal.

“I think I am most excited to just bring the pageant back,” she said. “It has affected so many girls’ lives in such a positive way. I’m passionate about the youth in our community. I was born and raised here and I love so much the opportunity to provide this great event for 25 local girls. I’m happy about bringing it back and being a part of the experience.”