Last year, the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program was brought back after a 34-year slumber.
With a year of experience under their belt, the volunteers that put together the Miss Hastings program have been thinking about what they learned and what they would like to tweak for Miss Hastings 2020.
"Every new business has its ups and downs. That is just life. You learn to roll with the punches and you celebrate the victories. In doing that, it keeps the path more level so that you don't burn out," Miss Hastings Scholarship Program President and Executive Director Janelle Behny said.
The biggest change for this competition season is how the program prepares contestants for Miss Hastings.
A year ago, the program offered one open house for interested residents to learn about the competition. This year, the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program offers three open workshops for participants to drop by with questions.
The workshops are informal and those interested are encouraged to come to as few or as many as they'd like.
"If you want to stop by with a parent and ask a few questions, come on over. If you want to come with your laptop and have us help you with the paperwork, come on over," Behny said. "The workshops will be whatever you want to make them."
If you are serious about competing for Miss Hastings 2020, Behny suggests getting online and looking at the documents that are available on the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program website. The purpose of having all of it available online, Behny said, is so those who are interested can get a headstart on the paperwork and come to the workshops with questions.
The workshops are also a great opportunity to ask questions about what a resume should look like, or to receive help in figuring out a social impact initiative, Behny added. The social impact initiative is a required advocacy project that a titleholder would lead in her year as Miss Hasitngs.
"This is the perfect opportunity for them because they need to find something that they love, narrow the focus and find the value in it," Behny said. She encourages contestants to start working on their social impact initiative before the competition and make it public, no matter how small the effort is, as it is something the judges will look for through social media.
Looking at the contract for the competition is an important piece too, as it gives contestants an idea of what is expected of them by the Miss America Organization and the time commitment that goes into being Miss Hastings and possibly Miss Minnesota.
As for the future, Behny hopes that the program will only grow and be embraced by the community.
Next year, the community can look forward to the unveiling of the Miss Hastings Teen program. The Miss Hastings Teen competition allows contestants ages 13-17 to compete for the local Outstanding Teen title.
"We are very excited about that because we will have our first teen titleholder just in time for the 100th anniversary of Miss America. That is a big deal," Behny said. "In the meantime, we will have a new titleholder and become even more grounded than we have been."
Another thing that Behny wishes for the future of the program is increased community awareness and the titleholder's involvement in the community.
"What I would like to happen, is to see the community become more aware of us. And out of that awareness, just realize that we can come and help with things," Behny said. "The smile that Alaina and the other titleholders have and the attitude that they radiate - they are there because they want to be. They love their communities. They are so ready to give to their communities. When you have a mutual relationship like that, there aren't words for that."
Miss Hastings 2020 competition dates to know
• Wednesday, May 22, open workshop, 6:30-8 p.m., Hastings Country Inn
• Tuesday, May 28, open workshop, 6:30-8 p.m., Hastings Country Inn
• Tuesday, June 4, open workshop, 6:30-8 p.m., Hastings Country Inn
• Monday, June 10, Miss Hastings orientation, 7 p.m., Crossroads Church
• Tuesday, June 11, Miss Hastings candidate introductions, 7-9 p.m., Hastings Country Inn
• Wednesday, July 17, Miss Hastings competition, interviews are 2-3 p.m., evening competition at 7 p.m., Crossroads Church
Various rehearsals will be held throughout June and July leading up to the competition July 17. A full calendar of practices and service events are available online.
More information, as well as eligibility requirements and competition forms, can be found at www.misshastings.org.