Former Bainbridge Fall Festival of Leaves pageant queen Kala Conn-Prose told The Times-Gazette that the 52nd edition of the fall celebration will sport a circus theme because of the village’s ongoing Clyde Beatty exhibit, and reflecting that, Big Top Circus is the theme for the annual scholarship pageant in addition to featuring music from the soundtrack of “The Greatest Showman.”
According to the Chillicothe Visitors Bureau, Beatty was born in 1903 in Bainbridge and at the age of 18, he and a friend jumped onto a boxcar bound for Washington C.H. where they joined the circus, and as has been said, the rest is history.
Beatty’s circus career began as a cage cleaner, but it wasn’t long until he found fame and fortune as a lion tamer for his talents as an animal trainer.
In 1945, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, he bought his own circus and went on to purchase the Cole Bros. Circus in 1958, which became the largest tent show in the United States at the time under the moniker Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus.
Besides his circus career, the Bainbridge native appeared in several motion pictures which included six films and various documentaries.
Beatty died of cancer in 1965 at the age of 62.
The Bainbridge exhibit that inspired this years’ Fall Festival of Leaves theme can be visited free of charge on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. just a few buildings away from the Paxton Theatre at 128 E. Main St., where the queen’s pageant will be held.
Applications for the scholarship pageant are due Friday, Sept. 20, Prose-Conn said. They are available at McFadden Pharmacy and Johnson’s Dairy Queen in Bainbridge, in Chillicothe at She Said Yes and Brick Haven, and can also be downloaded from the festival website at FallFestivalOfLeaves.com.
As one of the co-directors of the queen pageant, Prose-Conn said she will be coaching the girls on stage during the three rehearsals leading up to the pageant ,and that photo shoots for the queen candidates will be Sunday, Sept. 22.
“The pageant tops out at 25 entries,” she said. “The girls have to be between the ages of 15 and 18 by this Friday, and they have to either attend or be a graduate of Paint Valley, Unioto, Huntington, Hillsboro, Adena, Greenfield McClain, Chillicothe, Zane Trace, Southeastern or Western schools.”
She said they must also attend Sunday’s photo session and three subsequent rehearsals in preparation for the pageant, in addition to the qualifications of being of good moral character, never married, not a parent and no visible tattoos or body piercings, and be able to attend the judges interviews on Thursday, Oct. 17.
Preparations for the queen pageant began in the spring with the selection of judges and planning the decorations, in addition to getting the applications to the 10 qualifying school districts, according to retired pageant director Vicki Mettler.
“We’d like the girls to have a little bit of knowledge of the Bainbridge area,” she said, “because whoever is chosen queen will be going around to the other area festivals and promoting ours, so we want them to know some of the little things about Bainbridge that are important to the people who call this little town home.”
She said the queen pageant judges also look for poise and personality, and there are scholarships for the queen and her court, provided by donations from local citizens.
“A $1,000 scholarship goes to the queen,” she said, “with $500, $400, $300 and $200 scholarships going to the first, second, third and fourth runners-up.”
The scholarships are awarded in the memory of Lorraine Granger, a former teacher at the Paint Valley schools who was heavily involved with the festival.
There is a $10 application fee for each entrant, she said, which can be mailed to Amanda Dyer, 417 E. Main St., Bainbridge, Ohio 45612.
Although the application is available on the festival website, she said it would need to be downloaded, printed, filled out and mailed.
For more information, contact Dyer at 937-509-1334 or Conn-Prose at 740-804-8441.
Conn-Prose was Miss Fall Festival in 2006 and is currently an assistant vice-president and operations project manager with Rockhold Brown & Co. Bank in Bainbridge.
“I might be biased, but I think we have one of the best pageants in the area,” she said.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.