Editor’s note: This is the first in a four-part series on the Miss Manteca contest and Manteca Youth Focus.
This year — 2018 — is an historic year for our “Family City” as we celebrate the centennial of the city, the 95th anniversary of the Manteca Chamber of Commerce and the 30th anniversary of the Manteca Senior Center.
We have so much to celebrate and there is one more milestone anniversary to share; the golden anniversary of Miss Manteca. This Saturday, June 23, at 2 p.m .at Calvary Community Church, Manteca Youth Focus (MYF) will be hosting their annual scholarship competition for the title of Miss Manteca 2018. There are four young women competing for the prestigious title, a $1,500 educational scholarship, and the opportunity to join a unique sisterhood featuring some of the most incredible young women of achievement. This week we will explore the history of the crown and title in a 4-part series of articles leading up to this weekend’s competition.
Part I - The Sisterhood Begins 1968 to 1987
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 first twenty years of the program and the women who represented our city.
The early years of the Miss Manteca program were steeped in the tradition of what is commonly thought of as a “beauty pageant” including beautiful young girls, a sparkling crown, a sash and fur trimmed cape. Girls in this era were invited to participate in the competition by the chamber director and board. Each girl was sponsored by a local downtown business and wore a sash with their sponsoring business’ name during the phases of the competition. The competition was comprised of a total of 150 points, which included Poise & Personality (50 points), Bathing Suit (25 points), Evening Gown (25 points), Talent (25 points), and On-Stage Question (25 points). The prizes earned included a variety of cash prizes, gift certificates. Miss Manteca 1970, Rhonda Behlen-Waddell recalls that she also received a certificate for a 12-week “charm school” course from the county program.
The Miss Manteca’s of this era were invited to participate in the county fair pageant called the “Miss San Joaquin County Expo” which was later changed to “Miss San Joaquin County Theme Girl” competing against similar winners of programs from Escalon, Stockton, Ripon and Lodi. Manteca fared well in the program, often placing in the top 3 of the pageant. Our first Miss Manteca 1968, Karla Anderson-Bishop and 1978 Marcie Hansen both won the contest in the years they competed while 1982 Suzanne Lasiter-Tankersley won Miss Congeniality and Miss Talent and 1970 Rhonda Behlen-Waddell won 1st alternate.
In the mid-1980s our Miss Mantecas began competing directly for a state level title when Youth Focus Incorporated of San Jose began the Miss California State competition, a tradition that continues today. This competition brought opportunities for educational scholarships that is a cornerstone of today’s modern program format. Many of our Miss Manteca’s from this era went on to pursue higher education including 1970 Rhonda Behlen-Waddell (CSU Stanislaus), 1974 Kathleen Kelley-Skudstad (Southern Oregon University), 1977 Paula Langum-Fonseca (San Joaquin Delta College), 1978 Marcie Hansen (UC Davis), 1981 Lenna Martz-Lewis (Sacramento State), 1983 Elizabeth Cafferky-Sudkin (University of Massachusetts Boston), 1984 Paula Tilton-Lewis (Modesto Junior College), 1985 Millie Morales (CSU East Bay), and 1987 Jacqueline Guillory-Hensley (Sacramento State).
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. This Wednesday, June 20, at 2 p.m., MYF will bring the 2018 Miss Manteca and teen and young contestants to the museum to learn about the history of our city in preparation for their competition. Current reigning Miss Manteca, Christina Arcos, will be presenting the historical society board and museum staff with an official Miss Manteca crown to display in the museum collection on behalf of the MYF board.
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. Dan Lansford and Matt Vaughan will once again serve as hosts of the show. The two are beloved alumni of the Manteca Youth Focus program having served as Manteca City Ambassadors and California State Ambassadors. The rapport between the two adds tons of laughs to the show in addition to the phenomenal presentation of the contestants on-stage. Tickets are $10 and available for purchase online at mantecayouthfocus.org or at the door.
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.