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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 6, 2009

Like the Altamont Fair
Pageant continues a tradition while adding new features

By Anne Hayden

The Altamont Fair has focused on making improvements this year, and, according to Mary Fronk, the team leader of the Miss Altamont Fair pageant, the enhancements have spilled over into the contest as well.

Fronk took over the team leadership from her mother-in-law, Shirley Fronk, who held the position for six years. She prefers not to use the term “director” for her role, because, the way she views it, the seven people she works with throughout the year to pull the pageant together are a cohesive unit. The Fronk family has been involved in the event, which was started in 1976, for over 15 years. 

The team puts a lot of thought and effort into the competition, and also participates with the winners in several events throughout the year, the pinnacle being Schenectady’s Christmas parade, Mary Fronk said. Shirley Fronk thinks this year’s pageant will be the most exciting one yet, because of all the hard work that’s been done.

This year, the Ms. Altamont division, for older women, has been eliminated, due to flagging interest in the category. Little Miss, Young Miss, Junior Miss, and Miss Altamont Fair are the divisions that remain, meaning girls ranging in age from 5 to 21 years can participate in the event Mary Fronk refers to as focused on “inner beauty.”

“It’s not your typical beauty pageant,” she said. “We want to encourage girls who may not think they could ever be in a beauty competition.”

Shirley Fronk said the emphasis of the contest is on the growth of the competitors, from girls to young women. “We focus on self-esteem,” she said.

Mary Fronk said she’s very excited about the prizes offered this year; bigger trophies have been ordered, and the first and second alternates in each division will receive sashes.

“We’ve narrowed the categories a bit more so we can focus on the winners and prizes,” said Fronk.

“When you see the trophies, oh my gosh, they are gorgeous,” Shirely Fronk said. “They will be something the girls can cherish for years.” All of the entrants will receive something special, more than just the certificate of participation they have gotten in the past, she said.

Another change will be in the clothes the girls wear. Rather than a sportswear category, like the one that girls participated in last year, the Young Miss and Little Miss entrants will model evening wear and summer party wear, and the Junior Miss and Miss Altamont Fair competitors will showcase evening wear and a business casual look.

According to Mary Fronk, the sportswear outfits ran the risk of being too revealing.

“I think the business casual outfits will actually be helpful to the girls, because it will help them get ready for when they need to go out on interviews,” Mary Fronk said.

In keeping with the inne-rbeauty theme, entrants are asked not to wear heavy makeup.

The pageant will actually begin before the fair starts this year. On Sunday, Aug. 9, contestants will be interviewed individually. Mary Fronk said the interviews help the judges get to know the girls a lot better than they would be able to if they just watched them walk across the stage.

“It’s a good way for the judges to get an idea of who the girls are, and also to make sure they will be able to present themselves in front of the community,” said Mary Fronk. It’s important to make sure the girls feel comfortable, and can be outgoing, since the winners will be considered the “ambassadors of the fair,” she said, and will represent the fair at various events throughout the year.

In addition to the overall winners, and the first and second alternates, awards will be given for “Miss Congeniality,” a prize that the contestants will vote on, and “Cover Girl,” a gift certificate given to the person who brings in the most sponsors.

Recent past winners will be on hand. In addition to last year’s winner helping to give out prizes and keep the girls organized, a custom that began last year, the winner from two years ago will be helping emcee.

“People will see that this is a sisterhood, and they could be a part of it,” Shirley Fronk said.

The on-stage portion of the pageant will begin on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m., with prizes being awarded immediately afterward. The pageant is accepting applications for entrants up until 3 p.m. on Aug. 8.

A lot of people wait until the last minute to enter, Mary Fronk said, and she hopes to see more people signing up. The applications are available on the Altamont Fair website.

“I’ve seen participation grow over the past years,” Shirley Fronk said of the pageant, “and I think this year will be the biggest and best one yet.”

At the fair this year

Some of the major attractions are listed here. A full schedule is printed in the center of this sections.

— Miracle of Birth is back. A calf will be born each day of the Altamont Fair, in a tent near Gate Two;

— Sylvia’s Trunk, one of the most popular ventriloquist shows in the country, will perform each day, at 1 p.m., 3 p.m., and 5 p.m. on the Main Line. Sylvia Markson has been performing her act, with puppets, across the nation, for 15 years. She lives in the Albany area;

— WGNA Fair Idol: Ten finalists will perform in front of the judges on Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 7 p.m. in the Grandstand. First prize will be $200, second prize will be $100, and third place will receive $50. Entries on CD must be received at WGNA studios by Aug. 7 at 5 p.m. The studio address can be found on the fair’s website — www.altamontfair.com;

 Oxen pulls on Aug. 13, at 1 p.m. in the Pulling Ring. There will be demonstrations by six teams of oxen, including a team of baby oxen, handled by the owner’s grandchildren;

— Joey Page, of Disney Radio, will perform his act on Friday, Aug. 14, in the Grandstand; and

— Guitar Hero competitions, along with other electronic games, will take place throughout the length of the fair.

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