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January 15th, 2013 in News

At age 12, Madi Oliver was brainstorming ideas and handing out flyers to help her mother and aunt, who had revived the Miss Teen Russellville and Little Mr. and Miss Russellville pageants.

The next June at the annual Frog Leg Festival and Engine Show, she retained her title as Miss Photogenic and gained confidence in front of an audience.

"I like people and I like dressing up," she said.

For the last year, Madi Oliver has found ways to share her title as Miss Teen Russellville 2012, at parades and helping with the community's Christmas celebrations.

Mikala Jungmeyer received the crown in 2010 and Bailey Martin in 2011.

Madi Oliver said she hopes to see more young ladies get involved. The greater the participants, the more fun it is, she said.

"It's not the same competitive spirit as softball," Madi Oliver continued.

Though only three contestants ages 10-14 will receive titles - Miss Teen Russellville, Miss Photogenic and Miss Congeniality, they all will walk away with goodie bags.

All of the children ages 3-6 competing for the Little Mr. and Miss Russellville crowns also receive goodie bags.

"The kids love to get them," said Susie Oliver, who organizes the pageant with her sister Donna Roe. "Whether or not they win, everybody gets something."

The 175th anniversary June 7 will be the third pageant since the sisters revived the festival tradition after more than 10 years absent.

They have added a baby show, too, by popular request.

"Everybody wants to show off their baby," Susie said.

Drawing on the community interest and making the event open to as many as possible, the sisters chose a western-theme for the competition, rather than a more traditional formal-wear.

"The little kids really liked it," Donna said.

"It's cute to see the boots and Stetson hats on the little kids," Susie said.

Contestants must live within the Cole R-1 School District.

To participate, a photo and application are submitted, preferably in advance.

Then, in front of the audience, contestants are interviewed.

"Some little kids do not want to speak at all and some are chatty-chatty," Susie said. "It can be comical; I've had a couple say the craziest things."

The judges are never from the Russellville community or who know the contestants, Donna clarified.

The Miss Teen Russellville has had as many as eight contestants and the Little Mr. and Miss has seen nearly two dozen.

With the addition of entertainment that Friday evening by Blue Stem, the sisters are optimistic participation numbers will be higher this year. The Friday opening ceremonies also will include a $1-menu.

All contestant photos will be displayed throughout the remainder of the festival. And they all are invited to be in the Saturday parade.

One year the queen and contestants sat in a horse-drawn wagon and another year she was in a camaro and others in trucks, Maddie recalled.

"It's rewarding to see those kids with smiles on their faces," Donna said.

The festival committee continues to seek volunteers for the anniversary celebration. They meet at 6:30 p.m. the third Thursday of each month at St. Michel's Church.

Pageant entry forms will be available at the schools and on the city website.

"It's good to bring the community together," Susie said. "It's a family atmosphere."