is common to most festivals in this area, a pageant was held to name a
local girl, chosen by popular vote of the persons in attendance, to
reign over the celebration. In 1939, local judges were responsible for
selection of the Sweetcorn Queen. ,
In 1940, the canning and canning-related industries of Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio, Iowa, and Wisconsin were persuaded to send a contestant to Hoopeston to vie for the title. Since the festival and pageant now had persons in attendance from several states, the name "Hoopeston Sweetcorn Festival" was changed in 1941 to the "National Sweetcorn Festival" and "Miss Sweetcorn" became "National Sweetheart".
The Junior Chamber of Commerce assumed the sponsorship of the festival and pageant following World War II and has continued to the present. They followed the same format until 1952, when the Jaycees invited the 1st runners-up from their respective states' Miss America pageants. At the same time, judges from the Miss America circuit were invited to judge the pageant. The idea was to bring national recognition to the pageant, as well as provide a training pageant for girls who may wish to reenter their states' Miss America competition in future years. The same traditions and goals remain a vital part of the National Sweetheart Pageant today.
Nine contestants from our National Sweetheart Pageant have become Miss America. Pam Eldred, Miss America 1970; Rebecca King, Miss America 1974; Grace E. Ward, Miss America 1982; Debrah L. Turner, Miss America 1990; Carolyn Sapp, Miss America 1992; Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1993; Tara Dawn Holland, Miss America 1997, Katie Marie Harman, Miss America 2002, Caressa Cameron, Miss America 2010. In 2012 the following previous National Sweetheart contestants will be competing for Miss America: Miss Alaska Katy Lovegreen (2010), Miss Florida Kristina Janolo (2009), Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape (2010), Miss Idaho Genevieve Nutting (2010)
Our judges for this event are from the Miss America Systems and the girls compete in swimsuit, evening gowns, and talent.
,Miss Kentucky Ann-Blair Thornton (2010), Miss Louisiana Hope Anderson (2009), Miss Minnesota Natalie Davis (2009), Miss Nebraska Kayla Batt (2010), Miss New Mexico Sarina Turnbull (2009), Miss New York Kaitlin Monte (2008), Miss Washington Brittney Henry (2010) and Miss West Virginia Spenser Wempe (2010).