Editor’s note: This is the second in a four-part series on the Miss Manteca contest and Manteca Youth Focus.
The Miss Manteca program was initiated by the Manteca Chamber of Commerce in 1968 with the crowning of Karla Anderson-Bishop as the very first to reign.
The chamber continued coordinating the annual pageant for two decades when they passed the program on to the Manteca 4th of July Celebration from 1987 to 1994. It was at that time that Manteca Youth Focus was formed for the purpose of taking on the leadership of the program which has continued today.
Today, we will look back at the years of the program from 1988-1994 and the women who represented our city.
As the Chamber of Commerce sought to relinquish the leadership of the annual pageant to another community group, the members of the Manteca 4th of July Celebration stepped forward to take on the program. At that time in the late 80’s and early 90’s the city of Manteca put on a world class, week-long celebration during the summer culminating in the fireworks spectacular at Manteca High’s Gus Schmiedt Stadium. The celebration was held before the days of “safe and sane fireworks” were legal in town so citizens participated in a variety of events throughout the week including an annual dinner-dance, commemorative “Coke” bottle fundraiser, and “fireman’s muster” competition featuring feats of athleticism from Manteca’s bravest.
The Miss Manteca title formally became Miss Manteca 4th of July during that era and the pageant was added to celebration line up in the weeks leading up to the 4th of July. The young women chosen in the contest would serve as the official hostesses of the events including the parade, family day activities in library park and the night time field show and fireworks finale. Performances included beloved local musicians and performers such as the Allsup family, the Fonseca sisters, and the thrilling fire baton twirlers known as Little Bit O’ Country.
While the tradition of the crown and sash continued, it was during this time that the Miss Manteca contest began to evolve. The young women competed for the top prize of up to $1,200 scholarship paid to the college of their choice. The phases of competition were pared down and edited to include visual poise, communication skills, talent, interview, scholastic achievement and community service.
The Miss Manteca’s of this era continued to compete for a state level title at the Miss California State competition held in Santa Clara County and sponsored by Youth Focus Incorporated of San Jose. Manteca began to emerge as a leading competitor at the state level with Miss Manteca 1989 Shannon Leatherwood-Gieselman, 1990 Shim Lacy, and 1991 Tedra Williams-Torrice each placing in the top five during their year at the state competition.
Every single one of our our Miss Manteca’s from this era used the scholarships they earned at the state and local level to further their education including 1988 Ericka Mendes-Meadows (San Joaquin Delta College, University of the Pacific, CSU Stanislaus and National University), 1989 Shannon Leatherwood-Gieselman (UC Santa Barbara), 1990 Shim Lacy (San Joaquin Delta College, CSU Stanislaus and University of the Pacific), 1991-93 Tedra Williams-Torrice (CSU Stanislaus), and 1994 Donnell Carter-Snyder (University of the Pacific).
After the 1991 competition, the pageant went on hiatus for several years. The titleholder that year, East Union High graduate Tedra Williams-Torrice, graciously agreed to continue to serve the community and attend events as her title for an extended term through 1993 until the pageant committee restructured and held a smaller speech and interview competition in 1994 to crown Donnell Carter-Snyder. Carter-Snyder held the title while the leadership for the program transitioned once again from the now defunct Manteca 4th of July Committee to the newly formed Manteca Youth Focus later that same year.
Today, 1989’s Leatherwood-Gieselman resides in Southern California and is a successful business entrepreneur in fashion and skin care industries. 1988’s Mendes-Meadows is a kindergarten teacher at Walter Woodward Elementary School in Manteca and former President of the Manteca Educator’s Association. 1990’s Lacy recently graduated from University of the Pacific after a 27 years, where she is also employed as the Executive Assistant to the President and is the current reigning Mrs. California HeartShine. 1991’s Williams-Torrice and 1994 Carter-Snyder work together locally in real estate sales. Each of these outstanding young women of achievement are also heading up loving families, raising children, and continuing to contribute to their communities.
Manteca has so much to be proud of in remembering and honoring our Miss Manteca’s of the past and present. They are excited to celebrate the vibrant 50-year history at the upcoming competition on Saturday. The program will feature entertainment and special appearances by over 20 Miss Manteca’s, the single largest gathering of the titleholders ever. In addition to the phenomenal presentation of the contestants on-stage, some of the original MYF Miss Manteca’s and titleholders from the 90’s and 00’s will take the stage to perform. Tickets are just $10 and available for purchase online at mantecayouthfocus.org or at the door.
We hope that you enjoy this look back at the history of Miss Manteca. Please enjoy the photos we have collected of the past titleholders. Special thanks to the Manteca Historical Society for the generous use of these images from the museum. MYF is continuously seeking to connect the past to their work on behalf of the youth in the present day. If you know of any historical information or have photos or stories you might like to share as a past Miss Manteca or contestant, please reach out to Manteca Youth Focus by contacting Douglas Scott, competition director, at DScott@cornerstonemanteca.com or 209-612-0359.