The Maid of Cotton Pageant

Continuing our intermittent look at oddball beauty pageants.

The Maid of Cotton pageant began in 1939. The annual pageant was sponsored by the National Cotton Council (NCC), Memphis Cotton Carnival, and the Cotton Exchanges of Memphis, New York, and New Orleans. The pageant was held in Memphis, Tennessee, in conjunction with the Carnival until the 1980s.

In mid-December every year the NCC released a list of contestants. Contestants were required to have been born in one of the cotton-producing states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, North and South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas or Virginia. They might have also been born in the cotton-producing counties of Alexander, Jefferson, Massac, Pulaski, Williamson or Madison, Illinois or in Clark or Nye counties of Nevada. There were usually twenty contestants each year.

Contestants were judged on personality, good manners, intelligence, and family background as well as beauty and an ability to model. A Top Ten were chosen and then a Top Five, and finally second and first runners up and a winner. Winners served as goodwill and fashion ambassadors of the cotton industry in a five-month, all-expense tour of American cities. In the mid-1950s the tour expanded globally. In the late 1950s a Little Miss Cotton pageant was begun but lasted only until 1963 before being discontinued. In the mid-1980s Dallas,Texas took over the pageant, in conjunction with the NCC and its overseas division, Cotton Council International. In 1986, to bolster interest and participation, the NCC eliminated the rule requiring contestants to be born in a cotton-producing state. The pageant was discontinued in 1993, one of the reasons being that Cotton Inc. stopped contributing scholarship money as well as waning public interest and changing marketing strategies.

More details here.

And also here.

The 1952 winner.

     Posted By: Paul - Fri Jul 21, 2017
     Category: Beauty, Ugliness and Other Aesthetic Issues | Contests, Races and Other Competitions | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s

I looked around but couldn't find any references to her counterpart, Miss Boll Weevil. I did find reference to a boll weevil monument, erected to celebrate the insect's role in forcing farmers to diversify their crops.
Posted by KDP on 07/21/17 at 01:00 PM
I assume those are cotton blossoms on the dress she wore when she met Tricky Dick.

I sure never knew they make cotton in Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Nevada. More ammo for Trivial Pursuit.
Posted by Virtual on 07/21/17 at 05:59 PM
Oh, heads up to WU's webmaster: you have a weird thing around your blockquotes which makes all text which comes after them a little larger than the text before, and the way the page is set up, it bleeds into the rest of the front page, as well (including the sidebar). I suspect that if you swap the </blockquote> and the <font size="3">, that'll do the trick.
Even better: put font-size: large; in your CSS for blockquote, and dike out the <font> tags entirely - they're no longer valid in HTML5 anyway. (Or, but this is MAO and entirely a matter of taste, don't bother making block quotes larger. The box around them is quite sufficient.)
Posted by Richard Bos on 07/23/17 at 05:53 AM
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