Ashley Shamp crowned Miss Pine River 2023
Shamp's 22 year old dress was sewn by her grandmother and worn by her mother as a Miss Pine River contestant
PINE RIVER — Ashley Shamp was crowned Miss Pine River at the annual pageant held Saturday, April 1, at Pine River-Backus High School.
Shamp was chosen after an interview with the Miss Pine River Scholarship Pageant judges, a talent demonstration, casual work attire and evening gown presentation.
"I'm excited. I'm happy to represent our town and I can't wait for the next year," Shamp said after the pageant.
Shamp’s court includes First Princess Brianna Hanneken, Second Princess Alexa Tuchtenhagen and Miss Congeniality Victoria Koering.
Hanneken was also selected as the winner of the essay contest sponsored by the Stranne family in memory of Jeanne Stranne.
Shamp will receive a $2,500 scholarship. Hanneken will receive a $1,500 scholarship as First Princess and $500 for the essay. Tuchtenhagen will receive $1,000 and Koering will receive $250.
Also competing were Chandra Minion, Destiny Rice and Meagan Irish.
I don't think I've ever heard of anyone else wearing their mother's dress, let alone the one that their grandma made.
The talent portion featured variety with Minion performing possibly the first speed sketch. Tuchtenhagen did a speech about being on Pine River-Backus' robotics team and demonstrated use of the robot “Oscar.”
Koering performed a speech on baja racing. Irish performed Chopin's "Prelude in E Minor" on piano. Shamp's talent was a piano performance of "Improvisation" by Catherine Rollin.
Hanneken performed Yiruma's "River Flows in You" on saxophone and Rice sang "Burning House" by Cam.
Shamp's evening gown was particularly noteworthy because her grandmother, Denny Aleckson, made it 22 years ago for Shamp’s mother, Kyann Shamp, to wear to prom in 2001. Kyann Shamp then wore it again in her 2002 bid for Miss Pine River.
"The cost of buying a formal dress at that time was exorbitant," Aleckson said by phone. "I said, ‘Well, maybe we can make one.’ … She picked out the pattern she wanted, and she picked out the fabric she wanted."
"I just thought it was pretty," Kyann said by phone. "And the color ... I don't know why I picked it."
The pattern was a doozy — a pink satin with glitter spray flowers, requiring over 10 yards of fabric. The dress caught Ashley's eye when going through her mother's old dresses ahead of her own prom.
"My mom pulled out a tote of all my dresses last year when Ashley was asked to prom, and she already had her prom dress, but she just thought it was fun to try them on," Kyann said. "And she said right then, 'I'm going to wear this one.'"
"I immediately loved it," Ashley said. "I love the big skirt. It has a whole lot of fabric in the skirt. I just love the color and the style and it fit me good. So I just thought it was cool."
"I was just beyond thrilled that she wanted to wear it," Aleckson said. "Most kids nowadays don't want anything that's handmade. Or anything that their mother wore."
Ashley wanted to wear it for the Miss Pine River Pageant; however, it needed alterations. She wanted to wear 3 ½-inch heels with it, Aleckson said.
When Kyann wore the dress, she wore flats, as her then-date and later husband Matt Shamp was shorter than her. Aleckson had to add material for her granddaughter, reminding her just how much material was in the dress.
"It was like 44 yards of tulle gathered to put around the bottom of this dress so that she could wear her pink heels that she wanted to wear," Aleckson said.
The dress required 18 1/2 feet of additional material.
I was just beyond thrilled that she wanted to wear it. Most kids nowadays don't want anything that's handmade. Or anything that their mother wore.
Ashley said it made her proud to wear the dress. It also made her feel unique.
"I don't think I've ever heard of anyone else wearing their mother's dress, let alone the one that their grandma made," Ashley said.
The dress almost didn't make it to the 2002 Miss Pine River Pageant. It was somehow salvaged from a house fire earlier in 2002 before being put safely into storage for a comeback in 2023.
Now that its duty is done, the family said the dress will go back into safety in a cedar chest, possibly to be worn again someday.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org.