The winner of the annual Miss Minnesota pageant has been crowned in Eden Prairie for 12 years, but this June marks a closer relationship between the pageant and the city.
The pageant will take place in the Eden Prairie High School Performing Arts Center June 19-22, with a kickoff event at Eden Prairie Center on June 15.
Kathy Shellum became the executive director of Miss Minnesota in 2013. She grew up in Eden Prairie and said this is the first year the pageant has reached out to the city and the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce for recognition as the “Home of Miss Minnesota.”
Mayor Ron Case and Chamber president Pat Mulqueeny will participate in a ribbon cutting at the pageant’s kickoff event. Both are looking forward to the event and the development of a partnership between the city and pageant.
“I think any events like this that are positive and bring positive awareness to our city is a great partnership,” Case said.
He compared the city’s involvement, which includes ad space in some pageant materials, to its involvement with sports tournaments that are held in Eden Prairie, noting that keeping communication open between the city and sponsoring organizations helps large events run smoothly. The pageant didn’t ask for any financial support from the city or Chamber, Shellum said, and isn’t receiving any.
Case will also attend the final day of competition and crowning ceremony on June 22. He’s familiar with pageants but has never attended one, Case said, and he’s looking forward to learning about the event.
Mulqueeny has a bit more pageant experience. In the first year the pageant came to Eden Prairie, he was one of the judges, he said.
“It was kind of an amazing experience to see how the pageant is put together,” Mulqueeny said.
He’s not judging this year, and he won’t be able to attend the crowning ceremony, but Mulqueeny said he appreciates that the event is a “showcase” of Eden Prairie’s amenities, from parks and restaurants to hotels and stores. Contestants are staying in a hotel in Bloomington this year, but Shellum said she hopes to use an Eden Prairie hotel for next year’s event.
“It’s definitely a renewed partnership in terms of how Miss Minnesota is looking at Eden Prairie as a long-term home,” Mulqueeny said of this year’s pageant. “I think this year is a great opportunity to re-engage.”
The first Miss Minnesota was crowned in 1935. The pageant took place in Austin, Minnesota, for several decades before moving from city to city for several years, including St. Paul and St. Cloud, Shellum said. It settled in Eden Prairie in 2007, which is where Shellum lives and grew up.
“My heart is in Eden Prairie,” she said. “We’re excited to have a home.”
A crown and responsibilities
The winner of Miss Minnesota receives $10,000 in scholarship money, which can be used for tuition or to pay off student loan debt. That’s up from $6,000 in 2012, and Shellum hopes to raise it to $20,000 in the coming years.
Miss Minnesota isn’t paid for her position, but she receives gas cards and occasional stipends to compensate for her duties, which include appearing at events around the state like county fairs, fundraisers and corporate events. Companies sometimes pay around $200 for an appearance by Miss Minnesota, Shellum said, but appearances at state events are free.
“She represents the state as our spokesperson,” Shellum said. “It’s also a really tough job — you give a year of your life to service.”
The current Miss Minnesota is Michaelene Karlen, of Rochester. Karlen is a professional dancer and has performed with the Arch Contemporary Ballet in New York City and James Sewell Ballet. She currently dances for the Alternative Motion Project in Minneapolis and founded the Raise the Barre nonprofit, which provides dance lessons and scholarships for dance education for young people.
“I am very excited to see a new partnership between the city of Eden Prairie and the Miss Minnesota Organization,” Karlen wrote in a statement to Eden Prairie News. “It is because of strong support like this that our mission of preparing great women for the world and the world for great women will grow.”