The Miss Nebraska Pageant has become a highly anticipated annual tradition in Our Town North Platte. And it couldn't take place without a whole bunch of volunteers and two very dedicated leaders.
2012 is a very special year for the Miss Nebraska Pageant. In June, the pageant celebrated 75 years. And every since 1985, the pageant has been held in North Platte.
Maris Schad became the executive director of the pageant for more than two decades ago. After many memorable moments, she handed the reigns over to Jay and Amy Engel. Jay says, "I saw that the community was very supportive of it. And that it was going to be an organization that is tied nationally."
The Engels are tireless volunteers. Throughout the year, they average 20 hour weeks. And then in May and June, that number goes through the roof. And Amy says, "That's not counting any pleasant surprises that might come up along the way. Like when you have a Miss America and have to plan a homecoming it's a lot of hours."
Amy says it's that emotional attachment that makes this all worth while, "Not only is the community so supportive but we have just seen some amazing girls whether they've won Miss Nebraska or not but some wonderful girls that have competed and have learned a lot about themselves and gained a lot of skills that they've been able to take with them."
Jay feels good about helping provide scholarships for young women, "To look back and see that we've raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships since the time that we've been in North Platte is an incredible feat in itself but to hear the success stories of the girls that have gone on to do amazing things with that scholarship money."
This past June, the Miss Nebraska pageant handed out $36,000 worth of scholarships.
The pageant has now given away more than $800,000 in cash scholarships in the past 27 years that's it's taken place in North Platte.