Miss Poulsbo pageant searches for number 50

POULSBO — While celebrating the successful end to one program’s first year, the Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap program will be lighting 50 birthday candles for the other.

Organizers of the annual pageants are now looking for women ages 17-24 to participate. Miss Poulsbo contestants must live in the North Kitsap School District. Those who live, work or attend school in the rest of Kitsap County are eligible for the Miss Kitsap competition.

And the woman selected to be the 2004 Miss Poulsbo will have the distinction of being the 50th woman to have held the title. But it’s not just about the crown, commented Assistant Executive Director Michelle Nilsen Wasson.

“Often times the people who learn the most about themselves and get the most out of the program are the ones who don’t win,” she said. “It’s our intent to help all young ladies reach their potential.”

Applications for the 2004 competition will be taken until Jan. 15, 2004.

The Miss America affiliated program, which sends its top finishers to the Miss Washington and then to the Miss America pageant, is also a scholarship competition. In the last four years, the organization has given more than $45,000 in scholarships to contestants through donations from local organizations, businesses and individuals. This year’s Miss Poulsbo and Miss Kitsap will each receive a $5,000 award.

While Miss Poulsbo is celebrating its golden anniversary this year, the 2004 Miss Kitsap crown will be only the second awarded after being revived last year following a 15-year absence.

The 2004 Miss Poulsbo and Miss Kitsap pageants will be held simultaneously April 10, 2004 at the Bremerton High School auditorium. The 1950s sock-hop inspired pageant (celebrating 50 years of Miss Poulsbo) is planned to include Miss Poulsbos past and present. The first Miss Poulsbo Lolly Torey Keith, who remains active in the organization today as the board of directors’ treasurer, said she would encourage all young women to put their names into the hat.

“It was a nice experience and I have a lot of pleasant memories,” she commented of her time as the Poulsbo representative.

And while the pageant, and even Poulsbo, has changed since the first Miss Poulsbo competition, the ideals haven’t. Miss Poulsbo 2003-2004 Danielle Deitch echoed Torey Keith’s feelings about her experience as Miss Poulsbo. She said she owes her current enrollment in the Gene Juarez Academy to her Miss Poulsbo scholarship money and encourages other young women to get involved.

“And I don’t really consider myself a pageant person,” Deitch commented. “But it’s really more about who you are than what you look like. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Applications for the Miss Poulsbo/Miss Kitsap pageants are available at the Nilsen’s Appliance Centers in Poulsbo, Silverdale and Port Orchard. For more information, or for an application, contact Lynda Nilsen at (360) 779-5918 or

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