Fire company volunteer Janet Kipe has been patiently waiting for calls of interest about the Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention Contest coming up July 25. But her silent telephone is a constant reminder of waning community interest in the once-popular competition.
Having a young woman serve as a fire prevention ambassador is a long-held tradition that the Mount Airy Fire Company wishes to continue, said Mrs. Kipe. "We need young girls to do this," she said.
The local competition dates to fire company summer carnivals held at the Twin Arch Road grounds at least 35 years ago, said C. Oscar Baker, a past Mount Airy Fire Company president who continues to be an active company member.
It was important then for each company in the county to have a fire prevention queen contest, said Mr. Baker. The Mount Airy Miss Fire Prevention contests became so popular that special dinner dances were held each September for the competition.
"It got to be a big affair," Mr. Baker added. "We've had as high as 14 [contestants]."
Through the years, Miss Fire Prevention queens have visited local schools and service clubs to spread information about fire safety, said Mr. Baker. He said they have also performed their mission of education at the fire station during open houses and at other events.
"It's a way to show the public that we're pursuing the effort of fire prevention," he said. "We feel it is an honor."
The competition is not a beauty pageant. Contestants are judged primarily on the quantity and quality of their knowledge about fire prevention.
Years ago, being Miss Fire Prevention was the primary way young women could serve their local fire company. Now it is commonplace for young women to be active junior and adult members of the fire company.
That may be one reason for declining interest in the contest, speculated Mr. Baker's wife, Edith. Years ago, Mrs. Baker frequently chaired the contest with Helen Plunkard.
"There's a lot of companies in the county who are not having it now because of lack of interest," said Mr. Baker. "I hate to see us stop."
Mrs. Kipe is hoping that several eligible young women will step forward soon to compete in this year's contest. If at least two contestants show up for the July 25 event, being held on the first night of the Mount Airy Firemen's Carnival, the winner will be selected by a panel of three judges. Candidates will be individually interviewed and judged on poise, personality, speaking ability and form, said Mrs. Kipe.
The primary focus of the contest will be knowledge of fire prevention as demonstrated by a one-minute speech given on stage at the carnival, she said.
Candidates are required to be unmarried and childless, 16 to 21 years old, who live within Mount Airy's immediate response area. They are asked to wear suitable attire during the contest, such as a skirt and blouse or a dress.
Neither formal wear or blue jeans is appropriate for the contest, said Mrs. Kipe.
The 1995 Miss Mount Airy Fire Prevention will succeed this year's holder of the title, Becky Earley. The winner of the contest will receive a $100 cash prize and may keep her crown and banner at the end of her term. The first runner-up in the contest will receive a $50 prize and second runner-up will receive $25.
Booklets on fire prevention topics and other support are available to all contestants from the fire company.
For more information, call Mrs. Kipe at (301) 829-2293 after 5 p.m.
Don't miss the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of heirloom quilts on display July 15, 16, and 17 at the Mount Airy Senior Center.
"Timeless Treasures" is the name of the antique quilt show organized by Mount Airy resident Judy Elwood to commemorate the town's 100th anniversary.
The free exhibition will feature about 45 local patchwork masterpieces that date from the Civil War period to the 1930s. Each quilt will be featured with a brief written history. Mrs. Elwood, who was instrumental in the creation of the beautiful Centennial Quilt, said that quilt will also be displayed at next week's show.
"Timeless Treasures" will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 15 and 16 and from noon to 6 p.m. July 17 at the senior center. The senior center, which is above the Mount Airy Branch Library on Ridge Avenue, is air-conditioned and handicapped accessible.
Number Five in the series of Mount Airy Centennial Christmas ornaments is available to collectors and early-bird holiday shoppers.
The ornament is a green glass globe with a likeness of Mount Airy's historic Pine Grove Chapel etched in white.
The quaint church building on South Main Street was built in 1846 and is one of the oldest landmarks in Mount Airy. According to information in the town's Centennial book, "A Vision From Home," it has served as a community church, a barracks for Union soldiers during the Civil War, and as both a private and public schoolhouse.
The building was restored in 1934 to be used as a chapel in conjunction with the surrounding cemetery and it features many original materials including the floor, pulpit and pews.
The ornaments, which cost $8 each, are for sale at Mount Airy's Town Hall and at several area shops.