It’s been a 75-year-long tradition, the Queen Scheherazade pageant. For the first time this year due to the pandemic leading to the cancelation of the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival, there will be no queen or princesses crowned.
News Channel 3’s Caitlin Thropay spoke with last year’s pageant winners who shared how this scholarship pageant impacted their lives.
“Many people think maybe it’s beauty but no it’s literally scholarships,” 2020 Queen Scheherazade Kayley Serrano told News Channel 3.
The Queen Scheherazade pageant started in 1947 as a beauty pageant and stepping stone to becoming Miss. California. Over the years, it transformed into a scholarship pageant. The queen receives $3,500 and the princesses get $3,000 each in scholarship money.
“I directly put it towards my tuition for the college I’m going to," 2020 Princess Jasmine Analise Ortega said. "I’m going to the University of San Diego,” she added.
“The scholarship money helped me get the textbooks I needed, it helped me get the laptop I needed. It also even helped me with rent money,” Serrano said.
“Just knowing I had money to put towards my tuition for education was just really relieving so it helped a lot," Ortega added. "I actually can pay off one of my loans right off the bat," she said.
But this year, for the first in 75 years there was no pageant.
“Knowing the fact that that opportunity has been robbed by hundreds of girls throughout Riverside County, it’s really heartbreaking especially knowing how helpful it was for me,” Serrano said.
Serrano was last year’s queen and was looking forward to the 2021 Queen Scheherazade pageant.
“I was looking forward to crowning the next girls and getting to meet them and getting to see the kind of amazing ladies that we really have her win Riverside County and the Coachella Valley in general," Serrano said.
As queen and princesses, their main job is to promote the date festival but with no festival to promote this year, there was no need for the pageant to take place.
Veronica Casper the county fair manager gave us this statement:
"Last summer we made a very difficult decision in canceling the 2021 Riverside County Fair & National Date Festival. Along with it came the decision to cancel the Queen Scheherazade Scholarship Pageant as well. The Queen and her court are crowned at the pageant in November and act as goodwill ambassadors leading up to, and during, the Fair in February. They take part in numerous city council meetings and events in the county leading up to the Fair. We hope to continue this important annual tradition, but as of right now a decision hasn’t been made as to when it will take place."
Casper said there are still some scholarship opportunities available through the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival. The deadline to receive a livestock kids scholarship is February 26. Visit https://www.datefest.org/Scholarships to submit your application.