Miss Holly Grove Ruritan has been an icon in her community for 40 years. The pageant bearing the name has been sponsored by the Holly Grove Ruritan Club since 1973, but has been cancelled by Ruritan members effective this year.
Patricia Hicks, long-time pageant coordinator, decided to step down this year after serving for 4 decades.
“I felt 40 years was enough,” Hicks said.
Upon her resignation as pageant coordinator, no one volunteered to take her place, and then reality set in that participation was not what it used to be.
“Today, there are so many other activities and pageants to participate in,” Hicks said. “Participation in Miss Holly Grove Ruritan is really down, even though participants did not have to pay an entry fee. The girls sold sponsorship ads.”
The pageant started as a fundraiser idea.
“We would brainstorm to come up with ideas for fundraising,” Hicks said. “Pageants were very popular and there were not that many to participate in when we began Miss Holly Grove Ruritan.”
According to Hicks, girls from Louisa, Goochland, Hanover and Richmond would come to participate in the annual pageant, although it was not a platform to advance to another contest leading to a state title.
“It was not a pageant that went anywhere. It was just something we liked to do for our community to give girls exposure to being in it,” Ruritan member Preston Gammon, pageant pianist,” said.
At the height of its popularity, the pageant would host 20 to 30 girls and enlist Richmond radio personalities as emcee. Miss Holly Grove Ruritan and her court would participate in local parades, and Miss Holly Grove would reign over the Holly Grove festival giving out prizes.
“The floats Patricia and I put together were always beautiful and showed off the beauty of the girls,” Gammon said.
A division was created for younger contestants to compete for the Future Miss Holly Grove title, who in many cases went on to participate in Miss Holly Grove Ruritan.
Winners and contestants of Miss Holly Grove also went on to participate in other local and state pageants.
“Emily Hall was crowned as Miss Holly Grove and is now participating in the Miss Virginia pageant,” Gammon said.
Read The Central Virginian’s April 18 issue for the rest of the story