Strawberry Festival Queen Cape

Strawberry Festival Queen Cape

The historic cape that is shown above was on display in a downtown business window during the 2022 Strawberry Festival. The cape was made by Maude Thomison (1891-1975), daughter of Dr. Walter Fairfield and Ella Darwin Thomison, and the great-aunt of Pat Hawkins Guffey.

Maude was asked by the Strawberry Festival Committee to make this cape because they wanted to add something more special than only a crown for when the winner was announced during the festivities.

Maude studied costume design at Columbia University in New York and designed and made wedding dresses, winter coats, evening dresses and other clothing items for clientele in the Rhea County area.

During the early years of the Strawberry Festival, the Queen contest served as a qualifier for the Miss Tennessee Pageant. Throughout that celebration, this cape was placed around the newly crowned queen’s shoulders when she became the winner.

Those early festivals were known as the East Tennessee Strawberry Festival, with the previous queen crowning the one on Saturday night of the parade. Then in 1991, the Strawberry Festival Queen Contest ended for several reasons.

The sponsors felt that the competition was keeping local girls from entering, and that the money was going to sponsor a Miss Tennessee qualifier from outside of Rhea County. This pageant then became the Rhea County Young Woman of the Year Scholarship contest; shortly after that it changed once more and became the Rhea County Junior Miss Contest. At the present time, the competition is known as the Distinguished Young Women Contest.

1961 Strawberry Festival Queen Frances Francisco Sullival County

Shown above being crowned and wearing the cape is the 1961 Strawberry Festival Queen Frances Francisco of Sullivan County, Tennessee.

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Published byDean

Born and raised in Dayton Tennessee, I have served in various public service positions in the past. I have a great interest in the History of our town. This site is a way for me to share some of the great history of the area.

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