Carnival Queens & Miss Hampton Beach

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Photo courtesy of John Kane


Like fried dough, henna tattoos, and trips to the arcade, Beach Queens have long been an important part of the summer rituals at Hampton Beach. What started out as a way to sell raffle tickets with the Queen of the Carnival contest, open to all women, had by the 1940s evolved into the Miss Hampton Beach beauty pageant, for which only young, single women were eligible.

In the ‘Golden Age’ of beauty pageants (1950s-60s), as promoters worked to bring a sophisticated, Atlantic City vibe to the beach, the contest was poised to enter the national spotlight. Yet it stubbornly remained a small, not-quite-regional affair, one that valued its independence from pageants like Miss America and Miss USA. The winner was the Beach ambassador, chosen not just for her looks, but for her willingness to attend community activities and promote Hampton Beach as a family-friendly vacation destination throughout her reigning year.

Don’t forget – the Little & Jr Miss Hampton Beach contest is this Saturday, July 30 – which I will be judging! – and the Miss Hampton Beach contest is Sunday, July 31- both at the Seashell Pavilion.

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