The Portsmouth River Day's started as a joint effort of the PORTSMOUTH Boat Club and the Portsmouth Area Jaycee's. It started with a parade of boats during the Labor Day weekend on the Ohio River in 1961. In 1962, the group borrowed the first queen from another local festival, which was called the Korn Fest. The first Queen was Ms. Barbara Baker, and her duties was to award the prizes for the boat parade.
In 1962, the two groups combined into one and became what is now known at Portsmouth River Days with forming the many different committees, the group thought it would be a great idea to have their own queen and court. The first pageant had 6 contestants being interviewed privately and then escorted to the sound stage where the panel of local judges picked the winner. The first Miss River Days was Middy Barr and she was selected in the summer of 1963. Throughout the 1960's, guidelines and rules were formed and put into place as the Miss River Days contest became a local event. It was during this time frame, that the rule, the contestant must be a junior in high school entering into her senior year was put into place and is still used to this date.
The Portsmouth Area Jaycees' sponsored the pageant for many years with chaperones for the court being Jaycee members. The first chaperones were Dr. and Mrs. Ray Carson O.D., with other members and wives helping out. The first permanent chaperone and long time Queen's chairman was Mr. and Mrs. Frances Glickert.
During the mid 1980's, the River Days Committee decided not only to include contestants from the 12 local Scioto County High Schools, but to also include contestants from Greenup and Lewis counties in Kentucky. But, during the 1990's, it was decided by the River Days' Board to use contestants from Scioto County only.
Throughout the years, there has been different phases of competition from: private interview only, to the addition of swimsuits, sportswear, to active wear on stage speaking and of course the ever popular evening gown.
Once a new Queen and court are chosen, the next year is full of all kinds of opportunities such as, being ambassadors for the Portsmouth Area, by attending other festivals throughout the State of Ohio and inviting other festivals to come and attend the Portsmouth River Days festival also, by participating in local parades, events and even now state pageants.
Contestants first started out riding in the opening day parade on the back of convertible cars, and then on Saturday, the rode through the Grand parade on boats. Times changed again, and floats to the place of the boats. Every year there is a theme that the contestants must follow with the building of their float. The contestant floats are a great addition to the Saturday Grand Parade.
During the history of the pageant, the Queen's chair people have included: Dr. and Mrs. Ray Carson, Mr. and Mrs. Frances Glickert, Mr. Bill Warnock, Mr. and Mrs. Tom Reeder, Ms. Roselyn Heslep, Mr. Leroy Hackworth, Mrs. Debbie Hanes, Ms. Lori Lowe, and Ms. Tricia Dingus, as well as many committee members.
Contestants and as well as Queens and Court members have used their experiences from the Miss River Days' competition to make life long friends, and to succeed in life becoming: doctors, nurses, attorneys, magazine editors, to internationally known musicians, to fortune 500 executives, Broadway dancers, television producers, counselors, and many other fields of employment.
It has been said, to be a River Days' contestant is just a stepping stone into a life of success.
Click HERE for a list of River Days' Queens of the Past!