Beauty contests have been the rage of popularity in the United States. In 1939, while the country emerged from economic doldrums, the Miss Elk River beauty contest gained the enthusiastic attention of Sherburne County. The wave of popularity continued into 1940 as Miss Margaret Spence represented the community at the Miss Minnesota contest.
The contest in Elk River presented an unusually popular spectacle. “The contest attracted to Elk River one of the largest crowds seen here for a long time,” the Sherburne County Star News reported. Ticket sales required a second and third show to entertain everyone interested in the pageant. Unfortunately, news reports failed to detail the talent portion of the contest. Yet, the reports emphasized the poise and charm of all the contestants as they presented themselves to judges.
Miss Spence went on to compete in the Miss Minnesota Pageant 1940, staged near Marshall, Minnesota. The reports do not note Miss Spence’s placement. The winner of Miss Minnesota 1940, Virginia Kepler, hailed from Minneapolis.
Business leaders sponsored the Elk River contest and covered all expenses for Miss Spence to continue in the state contest. Clearly, the merchants sponsored the program to promote Elk River and boost the local economy. An event that succeeded in bringing money and visitors into Elk River for at least one day in 1939.