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Miss Northwest Committee looking for volunteers

Miss Northwest Pageant Director Cindy Moore, right, helps Miss Minnesota 2011 Natalie Davis pin the crown on Miss Northwest 2011 Siri Freeh, who became the 2012 Miss Minnesota. Moore and committee member Jane Anderson would like to find some new volunteers for the committee so they can step back from their duties. (Photo by Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)1 / 3
The Miss Northwest Committee of, from left, Peggy Stallmach, Cindy Moore, Jane Anderson and Leah Hochstein hosted a send-off party for Miss Minnesota Siri Freeh, center, who was also crowned Miss Northwest 2011. The committee is now down to Anderson and Moore, and they are looking for volunteers so they can step down as well.2 / 3
Miss Northwest committee members Jane Anderson, left, and Cindy Moore, build relationships with their candidates, like Miss Northwest and Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

Though she never participated in beauty pageants herself, Cindy Moore’s first exposure to the pageant circuit was through her sister, who participated in them. 

“I was having kids, so I never got emerged in that,” she said. 

But a few years later, she’d get more involved than she ever thought she might.

In 1992, Moore was on the Becker County Fair board when they decided to start a Miss Becker County Fair pageant. Being the only woman on the fair board at the time, the project fell on her.

She said she was “happy but apprehensive” to run the pageant, doing lots of research before beginning it. 

It was a success though, and a few more years down the road, she helped form the Miss Polar Fest pageant as well.

She also helped indirectly with the Miss Northwest pageant, helping girls prepare with interviews and wardrobe. For about 10 years, she said, she was “peripherally involved.”

She said the Becker County Fair pageant “is and was very different than franchise pageants” like the Miss Northwest one is, affiliated with Miss America. 

“My best memories were at the fair,” she said with a smile.

There were a few years where Moore was working on all three pageants — Becker County Fair, Polar Fest and Northwest. But then the Polar Fest pageant ended, and Moore passed off the Becker County Fair pageant to Tami Bigger. That left the Miss Northwest pageant, which she took over as director around 2004.

Before that, the pageant had floundered a bit, but when Bryan Domholt was admiral, she said he really pushed to bring the program back.

“He had a vision of what it should be and got it back on its feet,” she said. 

Moore isn’t the only one who has seen her fair share of local pageants either. Her fellow Miss Northwest pageant committee member Jane Anderson has also help with Polar Fest, Becker County Fair and Northwest.

“I have been involved in the Miss Northwest pageant for about eight years,” Anderson said. “I started out being active in the Miss Becker County Fair pageant (about 16 years ago) and that lead me to the Polar Fest pageant and then on to the Miss Northwest Pageant.”

She started helping out when her oldest daughter, Becky, started participating in pageants. Becky was Miss Northwest 2005.

Her youngest daughter, Elizabeth also became active, serving as Jr. Miss Becker County Fair, Miss Becker County Fair and Miss Frazee Outstanding Teen. 

“Just being active with my daughters led me into helping out and volunteering with the different pageants.”

A part-time job After nearly 15 years of running the pageant, Moore is ready to step down as director of the Miss Northwest pageant. She said she’ll never not help, but it’s time to spend more time with her grandchildren and family.

“It’s not about not wanting to do Miss Northwest, it’s just spending more time with our personal family,” Moore said.

Anderson echoes that, saying she has two grandchildren she’d like to spend more time with as well. She’s also a gardener, which takes a lot of her time in the summer.

“There also comes a time when a person needs to step back and let the next generation step up to the plate and put in some volunteer hours,” she added.

What used to be a committee of four — which also included Anderson, Peggy Stallmech and Leah Hochstein — is now down to Anderson and Moore, and they are both ready to have others come in and take over the program.

“It’s such a good marriage of people,” Moore said of the group, who played to each other’s strengths.

“I have loved every moment working with Cindy, Peggy and Leah,” Anderson said. “We all have our expertise areas which compliments each other to make our Miss Northwest pageant very successful. All of these women are very giving and passionate at what they do.”

She said her duties with the Miss Northwest pageant includes finding young ladies to participate – “which isn’t always an easy job.”

She also does a large part of the production the night of the pageant, working with the sound and lighting crews to make sure things go smoothly. After the queen is crowned that July, she has to make appearances at the remainder of the Northwest Carnival events and surround community events. Moore and Anderson have to chaperone her on these outings.

Then begins the preparation for Miss Minnesota, working on interviewing skills, wardrobe, service projects and more.

“We have also taken the time to travel to the Miss America pageant, which has been in either Las Vegas or Atlantic City, to support Miss Minnesota,” Anderson added.

The night of the Miss Northwest pageant, there are several others who come in and help the last few days before the pageant, too.

“People have been generous with their help,” Moore said.

But with their original committee being cut in half, Moore said they need even more helpers because the Miss Teen program was added a couple years ago and will likely stay after the three-year trial period.

“There has to be more people to help,” she said. “To be successful, there needs to be more people.”

Why would people want to be involved?

“The answer is clear,” she said. “It’s about the betterment of young women in our community.”

It’s not all smiles and sashes though either. It can also get stressful.

“Sometimes there’s tears — my tears and their tears,” she said.

But, she said, 95 percent of the time, it’s all good.

The time spent working on Miss Northwest pageant, Moore said, is like having a part-time job. Some parts of the year are slower than others, and then other parts of the year are much more hectic.

“We’re really, really busy this time of year,” she said of getting the Miss Northwest winner ready for the Miss Minnesota competition.

“We want to be involved, we want to help her make good choices,” she said of all the Miss Northwest winners they work with.

Worth the time though “This part of my life has been so hard to let go of,” Moore said of stepping down as director. “It’s a good thing. It takes a lot of time, but it’s all worth it.”

After working so closely with several of the contestants, especially those who have gone on to the Miss America competition, Moore said bonds form and relationships stick.

She said she still goes out to lunch here and there with past Miss Northwests, and she keeps in touch via e-mail as well.

She said the most exciting part of the pageants is during Miss Minnesota week when former Miss Northwest winners come and visit and everyone gets to catch up. When Siri Freeh was crowned Miss Minnesota, former Miss Northwest Melissa Paakh was there, and Moore said it was so good to be with everyone together.

One of the most amazing moments, she said, was to see Freeh on the Miss America stage. Moore remembers her as “little Miss Becker County Fair” and then be able to help her all the way to the Miss America stage.

The following year she got to accompany Miss Northwest and Miss Minnesota Rebecca Yeh to the Miss America stage again.

“It’s icing on the cake,” Moore said of getting to experience those trips with the winners.

“My favorite part of being on the committee,” Anderson said, “and working with the young ladies is watching them grow from the first time I meet them followed by weeks of preparation in which they grow and become confident young ladies. The transformation of their confidence level is amazing to watch.”

It’s fun to see them years later and see what they’ve accomplished, she said, and they always are so thankful for what the pageant and the committee has done for her.

One of those ladies who is thankful is former Miss Northwest and Miss Minnesota Siri Freeh.

“Cindy and the Northwest pageant committee are very special people,” she said. “They don’t do what they do just because they treasure the crowns or all the dresses. They value the young women, whose future they impact profoundly.

“So many doors opened up to me, and had it not been for their dedication to the program and genuine care of me, I would have a very different story.”

Current Miss Northwest Chantal Wilson can relate.

“Cindy and Jane are just the most wonderful people,” she said. “They put so much work into the Miss Northwest pageant and I think it really shows.”

She said it’s not only what people see, the production of the pageant, but also the help they bring to the candidates. She said they helped her execute so many of the projects she wanted to do with her title.

“Whenever I had some sort of idea of what I wanted to do to prepare for my platform, they were so excited for me and willing to help out,” she said. “Anytime I need someone to support those goals in any way, they’ve just been really, really fabulous. I just can’t say that enough times.”

Attending law school in Boston, Wilson said it hasn’t always been convenient for her to deal with the details of her events, but Moore and Anderson have pulled through for her.

It was important for her, she said, to ring the bell for the Salvation Army during the Red Kettle Campaign in December, so Moore took care of the details for her.

Their expertise in the Miss Minnesota pageant has been invaluable as well, she said. They’ve helped with everything from what dress best shows off her personality to how to articulate her platform best.

“They are just the sweetest people. You do definitely develop a personal relationship. I definitely think we have that and I’ll want to keep in contact with them. They’re starting to seem like family.”

And it seems the circle of family and friends grows.

“Cindy is so much more than a pageant director. We have laughed together and cried together,” Freeh said. “We have gone through one of the biggest moments of my life so far, and she has supported me all the way — and after. She will continue to be one of my dearest friends.”

Though it will be hard to step down – but not away from – that family, Anderson and Moore say it’s time for someone else to get involved.

“What they give away, they’d get back a million times,” Moore said of someone willing to be a part of the committee.

Anyone interested in being a part of the Miss Northwest pageant committee, contact Cindy Moore at 218-334-2321.