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Miss Hastings pageant to return after 34 years

A screen capture of the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program website,

After a 34-year hiatus, the Miss Hastings Scholarship Program will return in 2018 with the Miss Hastings Scholarship Pageant on July 20, 2018. Janelle Almquist Behny, board president, and Wendy Latuff, board vice president, are combining their perspective's to bring back the program to the Hastings area.

The Miss America Organization is ranked No. 1 in scholarship assistance for young women in the world and Behny said the Miss Hastings Scholarship Pageant intends to do the same for young women in the community.

Behny was crowned Miss Hastings in 1983 and Latuff is the mother of Miss Minnesota 2015. Behny said that she had been thinking about bringing Miss Hastings back to the area for a while, but it was never the right time. When she found out that Latuff was also thinking about bringing the program back, she hopped on board so they could do it together.

"I would love to have other women experience what I experienced, especially now since it's gone through such a refining fire since I've been in it," Behny said.

The Miss America Organization has improved upon what they were doing when she was in the program in the '80s, she said. Today, Behny said many of the women are able to step out of the program with great organizational skills, knowledge of branding a message, a driven attitude and success.

The Miss Hastings Scholarship Pageant will be a closed program, meaning contestants must reside, work or attend a school in Hastings Independent School District 200 for at least six months before the competition or have graduated from its high school.

"Hastings is a city that loves to get behind its people," Behny said of why they chose the closed program model.

There are several other requirements as well. Contestants must be 17-24 years old, be a single female with no children, meet character criteria from the Miss America Organization, meet time commitment responsibilities, and be a U.S. citizen.

The Miss Hastings Pageant is scheduled to be held during Rivertown Days. Behny said that she is excited for the titleholder to be able to walk around the festivities with their crown because it adds a bit of magic, especially for the younger girls and boys.

Miss Hastings Scholarship Program announced their Bridge Builders Partnership initiative in a press release May 15. As an inaugural fundraising drive, it asks community members to partner with the program as they work to establish a 501c3 designation.

For more information about the organization, visit the website at

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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