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Altamont Fair Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 12, 2010

“We keep it a sisterhood”
Altamont Fair pageant looks for inner beauty, organizer says

By Jo E. Prout

ALTAMONT — The girls who win the Miss Altamont Fair pageant this year will join a “sisterhood” that moves with the times, according to pageant organizer Mary Fronk.

Using a Facebook page to announce year-long events, Fronk and her team of helpers will share news about activities and parades for the winners in each category, and their first and second runners-up. The girls will be available to speak with the public at their first-ever booth near the 4-H concession stand this fair week.

“We’re here to have fun and to have a good day,” Fronk said about the contest, which will be held on Tuesday, the first day of the fair. The pageant starts the year for the Miss Altamont winners, who attend all of fair week, then local events and parades monthly, wearing their sashes and, if crowned, their tiaras.

“The alternates come for the week of the fair,” Fronk said. The winners will be giving out awards at the Battle of the Bands, and making other appearances at the fair, she said. Their booth will have a display of the event’s winners for 2010 and events during 2009 and 2010 that the winners attended.

“People can come and see what the pageant is like, and what we do during the year,” she said.

One event last year was the walk in Washington Park in Albany for breast cancer research. The Miss Altamont Fair court handed out snacks and water to those walking for a cure. Most court members — the winners and their alternates in each category — adopt a Hilltown family for Christmas, Fronk said.

“We stress community service,” she said. 

“I really want us to be a presence in Altamont,” Fronk said. She hopes to get the court involved with activities held at Orsini Park this coming year.

Every year, the Miss Altamont Fair team carries a banner, made by its former assistant team leader, Jackie Milham Flynn, in parades. The team also makes a float for the Schenectady holiday parade, Fronk said.

The pageant

This year, more than 20 girls entered the four categories. Four girls ages 4 to 7 will compete to be Little Miss Altamont Fair, and first and second alternates will be chosen. The fourth girl will not be left out, Fronk said, as each girl receives a Miss Altamont Fair pocketbook, gift certificates to local businesses, and other memorabilia from the contest.

Seven girls are entered in the Young Miss Altamont Fair category for ages 8 to 11, and seven are also entered in the Junior Miss Altamont Fair category for ages 12 to 15.

Six young women ages 16 to 21 will compete to be Miss Altamont Fair. The same total number of girls in the pageant competed in 2009, but only a few are returning contestants, Fronk said.

Her daughter, Star Fronk, is entered in the Junior Miss pageant, in her third year of competition. Star Fronk won an alternate spot two years ago, and continues to compete, following a family tradition of pageant involvement. Shirley Fronk, Star’s grandmother, directed the pageant for years before Mary became the pageant’s team leader two years ago.

“It was an easy transition,” Mary Fronk said. “I’ve been part of the Miss Altamont Fair pageant for years. I run it now with Cindy Flower.”

Star Fronk, who is 13, will be a freshman at Berne-Knox-Westerlo this year. She will compete wearing business wear and evening wear, she said.

“It’s really fun,” Star Fronk said. Asked about the many parades she has attended representing the Altamont Fair, she said, “Some were cold, some were hot.” Her mother, Mary, laughed, and said that Star, like many of the girls who enter the pageant, is shy. “She enjoys it. She loves to do it and get dressed up.”

One girl who entered this year uses a wheelchair, Fronk said.

“We do promote the inner beauty, to help them with how they present themselves, and give them courage to be in front of an audience,” Fronk said. “We’re just trying to have a good time. The girls will have a nice experience.”

A Cover Girl will be named at all levels, recognizing the girl who brings in the most money in sponsorships.

“They are encouraged to get sponsors,” Fronk said. Girls with three or more sponsors are eligible for the Cover Girl award.

Ladies in the Miss Altamont Fair division can also be named Miss Congeniality. Winners of these awards get trophies and gift cards.

“The prizes are all donated by local groups,” Fronk said. Stewart’s Shops donated ice-cream certificates, Delmonico’s donated a dinner certificate, and A Touch of Country in Guilderland is doing the pageant’s flowers.

“They’re beautiful,” Fronk said.

The pink trophies with white stars from Central Awards on Central Avenue were such a hit last year that the pageant team chose them, again, Fronk said.

“Everybody goes home with something,” she said.

Previous winners are invited back to co-host with veteran pageant host and photographer Carol Donato, Fronk said. Donato’s partner still photographs the pageant, and the girls winning titles and alternate spots receive free individual portraits after the contest, Fronk said.

Ladies from Albany, Schenectady, and Greene counties are eligible to enter the pageant. “We get new judges every year, just to get variety in case we have girls who apply every year. We try to have all local judges, within the Capital District,” Fronk said.

Girls can reapply to be in the pageant each year, unless they win a level, she said.

If a girl wins one level, Fronk said, “She has to wait until she’s eligible for the next category” to apply again.

Following suggestions made by pageant families last year, the sashes for girls in the two alternate spots in each level were improved this year. Now, the sashes for all the winners are satin, with titles embroidered on them.

“They look very nice,” Fronk said. Following traditional American colors, the winner of each category wears a blue sash, and the first alternate wears a red sash. The second alternate at each level wears yellow. All entrants receive a certificate.

“We keep it a sisterhood,” Fronk said. All previous winners are invited to stay involved and “be on the team,” she said. In July, the group had a scrapbooking party to finish the 2009 season.

“The pageant is a nice event. The trophies, sashes, and tiaras are very beautiful,” Fronk said. “All the girls are winners just because they got up there and got over their fears.”

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