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Milestone pageant

Selection of Miss Spokane celebrates its 100th anniversary

The Miss Spokane Scholarship Pageant celebrates 100 years of existence this weekend. Here are 10 quick facts, one for each decade, about this Spokane tradition.

1 The pageant began in 1912, the creation of the Spokane Advertising Club. Marguerite Motie won over 137 others. She held onto the title, officially and unofficially, until 1939.

2 The Miss Spokane pageant, sponsored by various civic organizations over the decades, took several breaks throughout its history – during the Depression, World War II and from 1979 to 1989.

3 Miss Spokane dressed in Native American dress, complete with feathers and fringe, to little protest from true Native Americans, although the Indian garb was discontinued at the end of the 1970s.

4 Controversy struck in the 1970s. In 1976, an eliminated candidate claimed discrimination because she had been a “masseuse” in the era before massage therapists were reputable. A year later, a civic organization that took over the pageant fired one Miss Spokane, and appointed another. When the first one refused to step down, the year ended with two competing Miss Spokanes.

5 After a 10-year break, the pageant was revived in 1990 as an independent pageant, affiliated with the Miss America Pageant.

6 Many Miss Spokanes went on to modeling, acting and advertising careers. Two have gone on to medical school. None, however, has yet made it to the Miss America contest, though two have won Miss Washington titles.

7 In 2000, Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer Bamonte published “Miss Spokane: Elegant Ambassadors and Their City.” The historic photos are priceless.

8 The pageant remains strong in modern times, because it’s evolved into a scholarship pageant. And young women learn skills that help them in job searches.

“They are taught to walk like a young lady, how to interview, how to greet people. These are not things we teach people anymore, and it’s a shame,” said Cheri Moore, who has been involved with the organization since 1996.

9 More than 25 former titleholders are expected to attend the weekend’s anniversary events.

10 The pageant is open to young women ages 17 through 24. Ten will compete for the Miss Spokane 2012 title Sunday.

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