LAFARGEVILLE, N.Y. (WWNY) - After a 55-year reign, the Miss Thousand Islands Organization has crowned its last contestant.
In a statement released Monday, the Miss TI Board of Directors said the franchise is dissolving due to changes in the Miss America rules and values.
"Recently, the Miss America Organization has gone through some leadership changes and some criteria changes with its judging and branding that no longer align with the values and beliefs of the Miss Thousand Island Board of Directors, so we have decided not to go forward," said Shelby Cohen, board of directors.
Some of the changes include eliminating the swimsuit and evening gown categories and focusing more on interview and talent portions.
“Now, scoring is about 50 percent talent and 50 percent interview,” said Cohen.
Basing the winner on those two aspects alone, Cohen says, doesn’t represent a “well-rounded” contestant.
Joelle Leek has been involved in the Miss Thousand Islands franchise since she was 10 and served as Miss Thousand Islands in 2018.
She says a huge part of pageants is developing the confidence to perform some of the categories.
“The elimination of the swimsuit competition and the evening gown portion of the competition, although they were trying to be more progressive by eliminating those portions, I think that it actually had us take steps back,” said Leek.
And, she says, eliminating those categories puts too much an emphasis on talent.
“You only perform your talent a few times throughout the year, if at all, and I don’t think it should we weighed as heavily as it is,” said Leek.
In all, the changes weren’t anything the Miss TI franchise wanted to represent, so the board of directors pulled the plug on the competitions.
“Luckily, there is another organization, the Miss Adirondack Organization is still in the north country, so the girls in the area still have an opportunity to compete for the Miss America Organization if they so choose,” said Leek.