Miss SD Pageant moves to Brookings

By: Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau and the South Dakota State University Performing Arts Center are excited to welcome the Miss South Dakota Competition to Brookings for the first time ever in the event’s 72-year history. 

The event will be held in Brookings at the Performing Arts Center on the SDSU campus from 2019 through 2021.  

“It’s an honor to be selected as the new host city of the Miss South Dakota Competition.  We know careful consideration was given to this historic move, and we are extremely excited that Brookings was selected,” said Jennifer Johnson, executive director of the Brookings Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Miss South Dakota Competition is the culminating event of the Miss South Dakota Scholarship Program, which strives to award outstanding young women the opportunity and financial backing to advance academically and professionally. For the past 72 years, the community of Hot Springs supported the competition, which is solely based on the work of volunteers, board members and official Miss America Organization employees. 

“Hot Springs embraced the program so well for so long by holding special events and welcoming the contestants with open hearts and homes, bringing businesses and community organizations together,” said Ray Peterson, producer of the Miss South Dakota Competition.

When the first Miss South Dakota Pageant took place in July 1947, community leaders of Hot Springs were looking for ways to increase tourism and create an experience for those visiting Evan’s Plunge and the natural hot spring waters. In the early 1940s as an added tourist attraction, a Hot Springs lawyer and civic leader, E.B. Adams, was hoping to create a bigger and better beauty contest similar to the once-popular Lake Larive Water Carnival Queen Contest that had ended in 1938.  

At the same time, it just so happened that Lenora Slaughter, the newly appointed executive director of a growing Miss America Pageant was seeking to find a representative from every state. 

Hot Springs was quick to answer the call, and on July 11, 1947, in tribute to the late E.B. Adams, the very first Miss South Dakota Pageant was held out under the stars on the Woodward Football Field and Roselyn Anderson, Miss St. Onge, became the very first Miss South Dakota.  

With the new title came new programming. The new competition introduced an emphasis on talent, intelligence and an educational scholarship as part of the program. 

With the growing needs of the program, it became time to explore expansion opportunities for the event and for the program. In late 2017, the Miss South Dakota board released a request for proposals open to all South Dakota cities and received six submissions. 

Based on the city proposals, the search was narrowed down to Brookings and Mitchell, with the final host city of Brookings announced following the crowning of the new Miss South Dakota, Carrie Wintle, on June 16. 

The move to Brookings offers the Miss South Dakota Program increased scholarship opportunities and opens the door for new partners. 

“Scholarship is the heart of the Miss SD program, and we’re confident the Brookings community will come together to provide these young women with the opportunity to advance their education,” said Brian Spitzer, board chair of the Miss South Dakota Scholarship Foundation.

With the move to Brookings comes a new venue.  The Performing Arts Center on the SDSU campus is currently undergoing a 96,000-square-foot expansion, which will add a dance studio, a recital hall and a proscenium theatre, in addition to multiple rehearsal and classroom spaces.  

While the center remains open during construction, the entire facility will be open and operational by January 2019, well in advance of the Miss South Dakota Competition.  

“The expansion of the Performing Arts Center on the South Dakota State University campus is critical to the university’s overall academic mission, but it also creates a venue that enhances the regional – and even national – footprint for SDSU and Brookings,” said Mike Lockrem, director of University Marketing and Communications. “Brookings is a vibrant community with a history of hosting quality events. The Miss South Dakota Competition will attract people from all corners of the state to a premier facility that will enhance the competition and provide a first-class experience for everyone involved.”

Event planning for the 2019 competition has already begun. A local event committee will be established over the summer, working in coordination with Miss South Dakota Executive Director September Kirby.  “Miss South Dakota takes a village! We know Brookings is a giving community, and we look forward to working collaboratively to transition the event and build a bright future for the program,” Kirby said.

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