What it means to run for Miss Oktoberfest – An Incredible Journey of Self Discovery and Love
I had the absolute honour of running for Miss Oktoberfest a couple weeks ago and I couldn’t have ever imagined in my wildest dreams how impactful the ride would be throughout the two week campaign. I am a lover of the arts, of self discovery and development. I have had the pleasure of doing fashion shows and beauty pageants, but this was something different. Chris Carmichael had tagged me in the post on Facebook to become an applicant and I’m all for trying new things. 3 days before the submission deadline (it had been open for a couple of months), I decided to jump in feet first and give it a go. I was not entirely sure what I had signed up for at first, I knew I was in the running to become Miss Oktoberfest thanks to my ever-generous sponsors Artals Promotions Inc, Muuz Creative and Alex Dekker Photography. With butterflies in my stomach, I hit send for the application form and was delighted to hear back from the committee saying I’d been approved! I was over the moon- the adventure was about to begin!
The first day began on Monday, September 10th, 2018. We met at a hotel nearby and were introduced briefly to all the girls, got our sashes placed on us “Miss Oktoberfest 2018” lain over our right shoulders to our left hip and immediately got started shooting on location with Sylvia Pond Photography. There were 10 girls in all running for Miss Oktoberfest this year, each with their own amazing charismas and charms. I was blown away by each of their presences as I entered the hall, a buzz of excitement was in the air. A large Coach Bus appeared from Brentwood Livery, a kind gentleman with a bright smile on our face warmly greeted us as we entered. On our way to Wildcraft, we had the absolute pleasure of meeting Mikaila Emrich, Miss Oktoberfest 2017. She let us know she was to be our mentor, our pageant “mother” so to speak. At just 22, Mikaila commands presence when she enters a room. A young entrepreneur radiating kindness, positivity and hard work. We had an divine meal from Wildcraft in Uptown Waterloo, I had the pan seared salmon with cucumber dill glaze and lentils. It was the best meal I’d had by far in a long time and the evening flew by with introductions to valued members of the Oktoberfest Council, including the President! I couldn’t believe the introductions of the first night and I couldn’t be more thrilled for what the following few days had in store.
The next few days became a whirlwind joyride of fun events and community outreach incentives. We went to BATL (The Backyard Axe Throwing League), learned how to embrace our true inner Bavarian while getting to know one another and compete. Melanie Gunsch won the BATL competition, earning her spot at the top and proving how excellent she is with the trade’s tools. Melanie is an inspiration of a woman, being a second year Welders Apprentice.
Fast forward to the night at the Food Bank, we sorted and donated over 2,000 meals in one evening for the community! It was such a meaningful moment, knowing that we had been able to give back to such a warm and giving region. We made a difference that very night.
So you want to be Miss Oktoberfest? Here are some things you’ll have to be to compete:
- Passionate – You must be in love with your life, with where you’re headed and where you’ve been. Consistently the previous Miss Oktoberfest Queens let us know that it’s about accepting who you are and your reality. Whatever your personal truth is is absolutely beautiful, the rest of the world would love to hear it. Be it a law student looking to make a difference in the legal system, a welder’s apprentice breaking the stereotype of women in the trades or a story similar to mine- a proud young woman working for a family owed and operated promotional products company that makes a difference to small entrepreneurs and business in the community, helping them reach new heights in their business.
- Age : In order to compete to be Miss Oktoberfest, there aren’t that many restrictions. However, you must be between the ages of 19-28. Although the title is known as “Miss”, even if you’re married you are actually alright to compete.
- A Community Ambassador – You have to be enthralled with the beauty and adversity that is the Kitchener Waterloo Region. Supporting local is a key ingredient in the development of the community and is essential to the municipality. Did you know what over 750,000 people attend the Oktoberfest celebrations during the celebrations? It’s a huge venue for tourism in the region and drives a huge economical and financial advancement to continue developing and bettering the region.
- A Historical Celebration of our Heritage – Oktoberfest is all about celebrating Canada's Greatest Bavarian Festival! “In Kitchener-Waterloo, Oktoberfest was not established by royal decree, but with a noble motive just the same. In 1969, the founding fathers of the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest saw this Bavarian tradition celebrated at the famous Concordia Club in Kitchener as an excellent opportunity to benefit the entire community by becoming a civic festival that celebrated our local German Canadian heritage.”
- Education – You must have at least completed a Highschool Diploma in order to compete for Miss Oktoberfest.
- A local – In order to be Miss Oktoberfest, one must reside within an 80km radius of the KW region. In the past, the Miss Oktoberfest used to be a beauty pageant with women from all over the world. In recent years, it’s been adapted to a community ambassador role and is no longer treated like a pageant.
At the end of 2 weeks of evening commitments involving learning how to polka dance, throw battle axes, give back to the community through the food bank and meet the haute members of the Oktoberfest community, the session comes to a wrap at the annual Oktoberfest Black tie event, the Gala Ball.
The girls dress to the nines in their best dresses, (many from La Crème in St Jacobs- mine was from First Bridal Boutique on Frederick Street) get their hair, nails and make up done for a memorable evening to crown the new Miss Oktoberfest- enjoying an impactful evening of celebrating local Young Women, “Our Future’s Finest”! 2018 was a big year as it crowned our 50th Miss Oktoberfest, Sandra Dynka! Dynka is a kinesiology graduate with a minor in Nutrition from Texas Tech University, she is passionate about educating others about the importance of nutrition and making it available to members in the community. She was born and raised in Kitchener-Waterloo, last year she launched a project allowing individuals in need to receive nutritious organic meals three times a week with vegetables grown in a local garden. Did I mention she also used to be a professional tennis player? She is an advocate for owning your identity and learning how to continue to develop your best self after the end of a big role. An inspiration to us all, she is a true representation of what it means to be a Queen! Congratulations Sandra, may your reign be ever prosperous!
The journey was a wild ride and each and every one of these ladies were truly inspirational to me and impacted my life in a big way. It is certainly an experience I am sure to never forget. Thank you ever so much for letting me be a part of it.