The board agreed the Scholarship Pageant was too costly to produce and is twice as much as the scholarship awards.
Additionally, the board wanted to change the female-oriented scholarship pageant to a program that reaches across both genders, which males can participate thus eliminating the bias in our program.
Although the change was decided upon, the new scholarship program will not go into effect until the 2010 Redenbacher Popcorn Festival season. At that time, the board will be contacting interested students of both genders from our county high schools to write an essay about a topic that is related to Indiana's production of popcorn, Clay County native Orville Redenbacher, Clay County, the State of Indiana and any related topic about the festival.
The rules are not yet set or approved on how these essays will be done, but a committee has been elected to pull the new program together by the end of 2009.
President Evelyn Brown felt the trend today is to avoid gender bias in scholarship award programs and the board agreed they wanted to board that train.
"Having both males and females apply for the scholarships makes it feel we are offering equal chances to everyone to gain an award," Board Vice-President Janice Cox said.
The board also agreed the costs we save in producing the pageant is more money we can offer the students and possibly at different levels of awards. The board agreed getting more money into the hands of students is one the schools, businesses, and community would support.
The committee is looking at having an essay contest which may include a follow-up questions-and-answers session. At this time, we are not sure if the essay must be written by the students with an overseer or if electronic versions will be allowed as many options are being considered.
One thing that we know is the Redenbacher family has agreed to judge the essays and possibly perform one-on-one interviews. Once final standing rules have been developed, these will be announced to the public at a later date.
However, there is a twist to all of this -- a good twist indeed. We wanted to keep the option in the program that if a female wins one of the scholarships that she can move up to the Indiana State Festivals Associations' (ISFA) pageant to acquire an additional scholarship if she chooses to do so. She would represent the Popcorn Festival as our Queen and festival candidate for ISFA Queen Pageant.
How those rules will apply to this will be set up by the Scholarship Committee, presented to the board and potentially approved.
The board was glad it could incorporate a Festival Queen in the new scholarship program who would represent our festival. The standing rules would then be added to the by-laws of the festival.
Those with suggestions or interested in assisting with the scholarship program are asked to contact Rana Hill (448-2137), Rose Mary Price (448-1750), Alice Wools (448-2245) or send an email to email@example.com.
Popcorn Festival info
The 2009 Popcorn Festival of Clay County will take place Oct. 1-4.
The carnival portion of the festival will be presented by Luehr's Ideal Rides starting at 5 p.m., Thursday Oct. 1, while the food and vendors portion will begin at 4 p.m., Friday Oct. 2.
Free popcorn will again be available at the Popcorn House from 4 p.m.-dusk, Oct. 2, 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Oct. 3, and 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Oct. 4.
A full list of entertainment and events, which are all subject to change, plus fun facts and popcorn recipes are available at www.popcornfest.net.