By Emily Burds, Express Intern
Three generations; one pageant. And all in the name of America’s game: baseball. This weekend, Paxtyn Keleher will be continuing a long-standing tradition of pageantry within her family at the 62nd annual Baseball Queen Pageant in Dyersville.
It was Paxtyn’s grandmother, Betty Kress, who began the history when she was a queen candidate while representing Balltown in 1960. Although she did not win, it was Teri, her daughter, in 1988 who took the crown for Sherrill. Now, with her “royal” background, Paxtyn will be the 2013 Miss Monticello, vying for a spot against 15 other candidates for the coveted queen title.
The pageant itself occurred last Wednesday night, July 31. The girls and their mothers were invited to a formal dinner, where the candidates wore their evening gowns and were in full dress attire before being interviewed by the judges individually. From that interview, the judges will decide who will claim the crown this weekend during the championship game of the tournament where the girls will be paraded to the field in convertibles and walked around the diamond before the results are announced.
But not just anyone can be Miss Monticello. Each year, the Monti Cubs ask one of the recently graduated 18-year-old girls to represent them. Last year’s Miss Monticello, Taylor Aitchison, became the first Queen from Monticello in at least two decades when she took the crown. This year she will be handing it off to one lucky young lady from the area.
“My mom just kind of told me that it was happening,” Paxtyn joked of her process.
“Garrett Hanken called me and asked if Paxtyn wanted to do it,” Teri said. From there, Paxtyn says she just got thrown in.
“We didn’t have any prep or any workshops,” Paxtyn said. “We just showed up in our gowns, ate dinner and answered questions.”
Paxtyn said that despite her possible nerves, she was just there to have fun and the interview process gave her a lot to think about.
“They asked questions that really got me thinking about the future, questions like, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years?’ Paxtyn said these definitely gave her some food for thought, especially as she heads off to college at the University of Dubuque this fall.
When talking about what she gained from her time as Queen, Teri said that it helped her interview skills. “It felt like a job interview and when you’re 18 that is something we needed experience in,” she explained. Paxtyn agreed that she felt the same but appreciated the experience.
As for how the pageant itself has evolved over the years since Teri’s reign, she explained that they never used to invite the mothers to dinner and that overall it has become a lot “fancier” with how the girls get done up and in their gowns, as a result of the changing fashion trends.
But despite all the new glitz and glam, the pageant still reminds the Keleher women of just how small of a world it really is.
“I grew up with Miss Balltown’s mom and worked with Miss Key West’s mother so it was a fun experience to get to have all of us there with our daughters,” Teri said of the quirky coincidences.
And it is true that one thing both the tournament and pageant do is bring people together. As many know, the baseball community is a tightknit one. The tournament is not only a celebration of our area’s love for the game but also a way to bring a deep-rooted community together. The Kress-Keleher women show those deep roots and history now and continue to prove people wrong as Teri explained,
“You know, a lot of people say we can’t get people to stay here in Iowa but when you look at this tournament and pageant and this entire community, you really see how easily that can be proven wrong.”