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The Divine Sisterhood Former Miss North Carolina America titleholders are sharing their legacy with the entire state with the very special “Four Points of the Crown” museum exhibit By Bobby McCroskey any state pageants host black-tie events before crowning a queen to compete in Miss America, but the museum exhibit preview gala for the 75th an- niversary of the Miss North Carolina Pageant was the evening of a lifetime. More than 700 guests— 101 Princesses, 76 Outstanding Teens and Misses, 43 former Miss North Carolinas, and many other pageant luminaries—celebrated the exhibit, which runs through November 25th with the theme: “Four Points of the Crown—Scholarship, Style, Success & Serv- ice.” Never have the gems surrounding that crown shined brighter, thanks to Maria Beale Fletcher (North Carolina’s only Miss America to date), Trudy Riley Kearney (1946), Hailey Best (2011), and Miss North Carolinas from every decade in between who at- tended the event. Co-sponsored by the Sisterhood of Miss North Carolina, Inc., and the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, the gala and exhibit culminate an almost 2-year effort to devise this ex- traordinary celebration. Sisterhood organizer Jennifer Vaden Barth (1991), along with other volunteers, credited librarians across the state with aiding in the search for history, photos and, in some cases, former state titleholders. The Sisterhood of Miss North Carolina began as an informal annual luncheon of former Miss North Carolinas and has evolved into a non-profit corporation that worked with the Miss North Carolina Pageant, Inc. to pro- duce the anniversary gala. “It’s fantastic to have so many of them here,” Barth said. “It’s a unique sorority, and we are so thrilled to celebrate a seven decade legacy of nostalgia and glamour.” An historical progression of swimsuits, gowns and crowns, in- cluding the oldest state crown from 1957, are hallmarks of the 500-square-foot, 66-piece exhibit. Other highlights of the theme are revealed in the thoughtful selection of objects like Adrienne Core’s (2010) clogging shoes and hat from her preliminary award- winning performance at Miss America, as well the prestigious Old M 94 PAGEANTRY FIT FOR QUEENS: (Top to Bottom) An historical progression of evening gowns and por- traits are hallmarks on display at the 500-square-foot, 66-piece exhibit. The 43 former Miss North Carolinas gather on the steps at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh, North Carolina. North State Award Jessica Jacobs (2007) received for her literacy campaign. Also on display are one queen’s sheet music from the 80s, a Miss North Carolina official contract from the 70s, and a minted coin from the 60s. One item not on display is Trudy Riley Kearney’s 1946 crown, as war rationing of metal prevented her from receiving one. In- stead, she received a replica of cardboard, tinfoil, and roses. “But they were real roses,” Kearney said. Now 85, Kearney re- sides in Chapel Hill, NC and still has words of praise for the Miss America Organization. “I was so awed by all I saw when I com- peted, and it’s wonderful that these young women can earn schol- arships. It beats any other program.” But lest anyone think this anniversary only recognizes the past, the Sisterhood is using it to shape the pageant’s future. “We are not here just for nostalgia,” said David L. Clegg, pres- ident of the Sisterhood’s board of directors. “We are here to recog- nize the successes of the former Miss North Carolinas and what this pageant means to its participants in the 21st century. You don’t have to win the Miss North Carolina title for this program to have an enormous impact on your life, and all of these young ladies have remarkable stories to tell.” More than 27,000 young women have competed in the Miss North Carolina program over 75 years and all have aimed to take home the Miss North Carolina crown—even a crown made of cardboard, tinfoil, and roses. Ⅺ