Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap dumps Miss America

After nearly 10 years, "Miss Poulsbo" is leaving Miss America.

Executive Director Michele Wasson said Monday that Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap Scholarship Organization’s inclusion in Miss America has been a positive experience, and the decision to split was money related.

Each year, Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap sent two entrants on to the Miss Washington competition, which was expensive both in fees and preparation. The scholarship organization also contributed $6,000 into the Children’s Miracle Network, part of its obligations as a Miss America member.

Wasson said the Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap board of directors decided the money would be better spent at home.

“With the changing economy, we want to keep our money here locally to help the young women and girls in our area,” Wasson said in an email to supporters.

During its first 47 years, Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap was an independent pageant which selected young women to serve as ambassadors locally. It joined Miss America in 1999, a move that allowed its entrants to advance to state and national competition. Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap had success over the last decade, distributing $184,000 in scholarships to 112 young women in Kitsap County and enrolling 137 girls in its Little Sisters Program.

But leaving Miss America will allow the organization to return its full focus to local programs, Wasson said.

“We’re kind of going back to the roots of Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap,” Wasson said.

Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap will be making some revisions to its pageant program. It will remove the swimsuit competition and add “active wear” and “academic review” segments.

“I have nothing against swimsuit competitions,” Wasson said. “There are a lot of great young ladies who would like to represent their communities but might not feel comfortable in a swimsuit.”

The talent competition will be expanded from 90 seconds to two and a half minutes.

Wasson said she doubts Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap would rejoin Miss America, even if the economy rebounds.

“It’s always open for debate, but at this point I don’t see that happening,” she said. “We’re excited about this new direction we’re going.”

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