Arkansas Senior America Pageant
The Arkansas Senior America Pageant is Arkansas’s preliminary for the Ms. Senior America Pageant, which is held annually in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The Ms. Senior America Pageant was created in 1972 to spotlight women who have reached what organizers call the “Age of Elegance,” exemplifying the dignity and value of all senior Americans.
The Arkansas pageant, generally held in June, has been produced since 1988. Until 2018, it was presented annually at the Alma Performing Arts Center in Alma (Crawford County). In 2019, the pageant moved to its new home in Hot Springs Village (Garland and Saline counties), where it attracted a sold-out audience of several hundred people in its first presentation.
The Arkansas pageant is open to all women sixty years old or older who are citizens of the United States, have lived in Arkansas at least six months, and are not former state queens. During the year of her reign, Ms. Senior Arkansas entertains at venues across the state such as civic clubs, community events, and senior centers.
The four-part judging procedure starts with a personal interview in which each contestant meets individually with the panel of judges to demonstrate her personality, poise, and verbal skills. Later, onstage in front of the audience, each contestant shares her personal philosophy of life. In this brief cameo, she offers wisdom she wishes to share with younger generations as well as senior Arkansans. Next, in the evening gown competition, contestants appear before the audience to demonstrate the beauty and grace that illustrates the “Age of Elegance.” Finally, in the talent portion, each competitor displays a skill that might include art, comedy, dance, drama, music, poetry, sewing, or other abilities.
Judges for the Arkansas Senior America Pageant typically include notable Arkansans as well as dignitaries from the national Senior America organization. Among the judges for the 2019 Arkansas Senior America Pageant in Hot Springs Village were Ms. Senior America 2016 Peggy Brennan, a noted entertainer from Branson, Missouri, who appeared on the television show M*A*S*H. In words that summed up the Arkansas Senior America program for many, she commented, “It’s never too late to dream a new dream and it’s never too late to live out an old one.”
Sharon Morgan Tahaney of El Dorado (Union County) was crowned Ms. Arkansas Senior America 2019. She retained the title in 2020 due to state and national pageants being canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
|1988||Betty Wing||(hometown unknown)|
|1989||Mirana Thompson||(hometown unknown)|
|1990||Shirley Baker||Searcy (White County)|
|1991||Mary Fine||Little Rock (Pulaski County)|
|1992||Mildred Minton||Ward (Lonoke County)|
|1993||Velta Ming||Mulberry (Crawford County)|
|1994||Ester Braggs||Little Rock (Pulaski County)|
|1995||Constance Waddell||Bella Vista (Benton County)|
|1996||Joie Jeffords||Fort Smith (Sebastian County)|
|1997||Carma Jean Rivers||Conway (Faulkner County)|
|1998||Betty Beck||Mena (Polk County)|
|1999||Peggy Watson||Fort Smith (Sebastian County)|
|2000||Joan A’Hearn||Hot Springs (Garland County)|
|2001||Evelyn McDonald||Fayetteville (Washington County)|
|2002||Deloris Williams||Lafe (Greene County)|
|2003||Bernice Mitchell||Van Buren (Crawford County)|
|2004||Robbie Brewer||Van Buren (Crawford County)|
|2005||Mary Russell||Fort Smith (Sebastian County)|
|2006||Ruby Coulter||Dyer (Crawford County)|
|2007||Delores Bates||Alma (Crawford County)|
|2008||Judith Burgess||Paragould (Greene County)|
|2009||Virginia Risely||Prairie Grove (Washington County)|
|2010||Judy Hargrave||Rector (Clay County)|
|2011||Foye Shankle||Hartford (Sebastian County)|
|2012||Donna Kingston||Paragould (Greene County)|
|2013||Katy Phillips||Prairie Grove (Washington County)|
|2014||Karen Cagel||Rector (Clay County)|
|2015||Jan Throgmorton||West Fork (Washington County)|
|2016||Patricia Genovese||Hot Springs (Garland County)|
|2017||Sherry Marshall||Uniontown (Crawford County)|
|2018||Dixie Makepeace Ford||Hot Springs (Garland County)|
|2019||Sharon Morgan Tahaney||El Dorado (Union County)|
|2020||n/a||(pageant canceled due to COVID-19)|
For additional information:
Arkansas Senior America Pageant. http://senioramerica.org/Arkansas.asp (accessed July 15, 2021).
“Arkansas’ Senior America Pageant to be held in HSV in June.” Hot Springs Sentinel Record. March 4, 2019. https://www.hotsr.com/news/2019/mar/04/arkansas-senior-america-pageant-to-be-h/ (accessed July 15, 2021).
Tomb, Devin. “The Fabulous Little World of the Ms. Senior America Pageant.” Good Housekeeping, November 11, 2016. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/inspirational-stories/a41186/ms-senior-america-pageant-2016/ (accessed July 15, 2021).
Garland County Historical Society
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