CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Randall Reid-Smith and Charles Morris wanted to find a way to showcase both the inner and outer beauty of all Miss West Virginias in 2019 as the year marks 75 years for the crown in the Mountain State.
With help from current Miss West Virginia Madeline Collins, Reid-Smith and Morris got to open an exhibit on June 3 at the state Culture Center called “Pageantry with a Purpose: Celebrating 75 Years of the Miss West Virginia America Pageant.”
“Anywhere you go people will tell you the most beautiful women in the world are from West Virginia,” Reid-Smith, the Commissioner of the state Department of Arts, Culture and History said.
“Not only did we want to show their outer beauty but we wanted to show their platforms, what they stood for and what they bring to our state.”
Morris, the state Museums Director, said there are artifacts at the exhibit from around 20 past West Virginians. Anything from gowns, crowns, swimsuits, shows, and pictures from talent competitions and community work can be found inside.
Dozens of past West Virginia contestants gathered to see those items on display for opening night on June 3. Reid-Smith said all of them were in awe and had a great time at the exhibit.
Even with all the outer beauty on display, Reid-Smith said the inner beauty really shows of these women, truly backing the exhibit’s name.
“There’s nothing more rewarding to see people take up their time, go into schools, talk about something important to them and nobody really does that more than a title holder in a beauty pageant,” he said.
“It’s more than just a beauty pageant. It’s pageantry with a purpose.”
Morris said months of preparation went into just preparing the exhibit after the idea was finalized. He said artifacts were gathered with the help of Collins, labeling, texting of items and design of the showcase all had to be done.
The exhibit is in the balcony gallery of the Norman L. Fagan State Theater and is open through August 24.
“We just want West Virginia kids to know we are not less, we are more and you can achieve anything,” Reid-Smith said.
“That’s what we have always done, we tell them all the time that you can do anything.”