By MAGGIE SCHUETTE-VOSS
Miss Winsted 1996 is once again in the running for queen.
This time Elin Schoenfelder is competing for Queen of the Lakes at the Minneapolis Aquatennial in July.
On the day of an interview, Elin is dressed up and knocking on doors. While the competition just to participate in the pageant is steep, it also comes with a price tag a $600 entry fee.
Even if Elin is not crowned queen, the experience could be well worth the price.
Elin said she wanted to compete in pageant because, "I thought it would be a neat opportunity, and this opportunity only comes along once in a lifetime," she said.
Elin, a 1996 graduate of Holy Trinity High School, had to apply to the Aquatennial to compete. "They only take about the first 50 girls," she said.
For one week, Elin's every move will be judged. That's no exaggeration.
During the Aquatennial week, those hoping to be queen will attend a whirlwind of events. With them will be a number of chaperones, six of whom are the contest judges.
"For the first three days, we won't know who they are and they'll be judging us the whole time. After we find out who they are, they will still be judging us," Elin said. "I know when I find out who they are I'm going to think back and say, 'Oh my gosh, did I say something stupid?'
The judges work in the areas of business, fashion, politics, and communications. Some are former queens or princesses.
The judges will also interview the girls.
"We have to know our goals, current affairs, things like that," she said. The week can be so grueling that during the interview, the judges ask if the candidate wants to continue, and some do drop out," she said.
The next few weeks will be filled with getting ready for the Queen of the Lakes competition.
Elin's first day in the competition will be Saturday, July 18 when she rides in the Grande Day parade.
In the meantime, she has called on friends for the clothes she needs. "I have some friends who have to dress professionally for work and I've been calling them," Elin said.
The friends have come through, but there is still the white formal to find. The portion of the Aquatennial pageant where all the contestants don a white formal is an important part of the competition. Elin said she thinks she has found two, but cost is a factor.
Other friends will be competing along with her. Elin, who is attending St. Thomas University for broadcast journalism, said six other girls from the college are also competing.
If Elin does win, she plans to take a year off from college. She will have 80 appearances to make across the U.S. and two weeks in Japan.
"Some people say 'Elin, you're going to graduate a whole year later,' but this would be a way to meet people and make connections," she said.
If she does win, it will also help with her college career, as scholarship money is part of the awards package.
To Elin, winning is not everything. "There is more to life than winning a competition . . . it's about making friends and having a good experience."