Weather Forecast


Miss Park Rapids alum steps into co-coordinator's role for pageant

Amy Yerkes was Miss Park Rapids 1990. She is now co-coordinator of the local pageant. (Submitted photo)

Amy Yerkes, Miss Park Rapids 1990, has stepped forward to co-coordinate the Miss Park Rapids 2011 pageant, along with Kristine Walsh.

She returned to her hometown recently after being laid-off from her position with the state of Minnesota for more than nine years.

Yerkes found herself without a job. And just like any other individual toughing it out in today's economy other losses soon followed: her car, her health insurance, and, eventually, her home. When a part-time position as music director for St. Peter the Apostle Church became available, Yerkes jumped at the opportunity to return home.

While reading an article about the upcoming Miss Park Rapids pageant, Yerkes recalled winning the scholarship in 1990 and the opportunities it provided her as a result.

"At that time, I was always the 'fat kid' that nobody thought would achieve anything," she said. "My self-esteem was non-existent. I only agreed to be in the competition because the committee promised me there would be no swimsuit competition. And in my wildest dreams, I never thought I would actually win."

Yerkes went on to succeed in many other facets of life, winning a national "Beating the Odds Award" from Head Start in 1999, and was later was appointed by the chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to a position in administration. She said this breaking of the glass ceiling as a woman in the workforce would not have been possible without the scholarship opportunity provided her from the Miss Park Rapids pageant.

She believes in the importance of a positive body image and self-esteem for young women.

Currently, the pageant boasts a $500 scholarship. Yerkes hopes (with support from local, area businesses and the community) to increase that sum to $1,000 or what it used to be when she was Miss Park Rapids.

The pageant coordinators have been struggling to find girls to participate in the pageant, Yerkes said.

As a result of no one coming forward to compete in the pageant, the entry deadline was once again extended and the age group was increased as well. Seniors were encouraged to apply. Previously, it was assumed that students in grade 12 would not be available to carry out their duties as Miss Park Rapids because they would graduate and be gone.

However, Yerkes said, she returned home for special occasions such as lighting the Christmas tree or meeting for lunch with members of the Chamber of Commerce. Miss Park Rapids would not be required to attend every summer event. The committee is simply asking for her to be respectful to herself and the community, representing Park Rapids by attending three or four events over the course of the summer.

For more information, call 255-2342 or 732-2962 or go to the Facebook page "Miss Park Rapids Pageant" or visit www.parkavenuecos parkrapids.htm.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561