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updated: 6/7/2013 11:46 AM

Lack of interest ends Libertyville pageant streak

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Visitors to the annual Libertyville Days festival starting June 13 will have plenty of entertainment options, but one contest has been canceled due to lack of interest.

For the first time in memory, the long-running Libertyville pageant will not be held. The annual quest for crowns for Little Miss, Junior Miss and Miss Libertyville has taken center stage on the steps of the Cook mansion for about the past five years as part of the popular festival's opening night offerings. Before that, the pageant was held at other locations, but it has remained a mainstay for decades.

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Not so in 2013.

"There just didn't seem to be enough interest this year," said Bunny Otrembiak, a former Miss Libertyville and pageant coordinator for the past 20 years. "I think people are just genuinely busy for a multitude of reasons."

Contestants for Little Miss (aged 6 to 8), Junior Miss (aged 11 to 13) and Miss Libertyville (aged 16 to 21) must live in the 60048 ZIP code. The winners are considered community ambassadors and volunteers and can be seen throughout their reigns at a variety of events.

"They're busy. They're all community-service oriented," Otrembiak said. She wouldn't say how many applications were received this year but noted there have been 10 to 20 contestants combined for the three titles in the past.

"We had interest, just not enough interest to justify holding the pageant," Otrembiak said.

She added one factor may be many schools have eliminated printed newsletters in favor of virtual backpacks, and the message regarding the pageant may have been overlooked. "Personally, I think that has a huge impact," she said.

Conflicts with other scheduled programs in Libertyville may have had something to do with the turn of events, said Dee Cox, co-chairman of Libertyville Days.

"We're disappointed, but we have some other new things going on. It will be fun nonetheless," she said, noting that there will be cake and cookie decorating contests as examples.

"I was really surprised. In talking to people just in general, participation in several things in the area seems to be down this year," said Anne Carlino, executive director of the Libertyville Civic Center Foundation, which hosts Libertyville Days as its largest fundraiser.

Otrembiak said she'll get the pageant ball rolling next year and see what happens.

"That's just the way it goes," she said. "There are reasons for everything. I'm a firm believer in that."

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