Yesterday, Miss Texas and Miss Teen Texas announced they were relocating from Fort Worth, where they've been for the past 46 years, to Arlington in an overt attempt to pump life into a dying tradition pageant officials insist is as American as apple pie.
Since the pageant's heyday in the 1970s and '80s, Magness says, they have seen a decline from more than 70 contestants a year to only 37 this year.
"I have seen a consistent -- not only in Texas, we have talked about this at the Miss America meeting -- decline across the United States in contestants," said Magness, en route to an interview with KXAS-Channel 5. Magness speculates this correlates to a general trend in volunteering. "Volunteerism, unfortunately, is on the decline."
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At the Miss Texas competition in July of last year, Rep. Joe Barton of Arlington happened to be a judge. He told Magness that "y'all are the best-kept secret around," and implored them to move to the, um, far more happening city of Arlington. Miss Texas was contacted by the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, and shortly thereafter signed a five-year letter of intent.
Jay Burress, president of the Arlington Convention & Visitors Bureau, says he looks forward to introducing to Arlington the 3,000 or so family members and friends of the pageant contestants expected to descend on Texas Hall at the University of Texas Arlington on July 3.
"Family travel is the soul of who we are," says Burress. The pageant had been held at the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
Although Magness can't be sure that the move will re-energize the pageant, she remains hopeful. She sees Miss Texas as a tradition worth preserving. "I associate it somewhat to baseball, apple pie," she says. "An American tradition."