It's Pageant Week once again in Williston, and Miss North Dakota Haley Wolfe is preparing to pass her crown along to the next lucky recipient.
"It's been a long awaited two years, and I'm happy to be back in Williston." Wolfe told the Williston Herald.
Wolfe holds the unique honor of being the longest serving Miss North Dakota, as 2020's pageant was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's hard to really wrap my brain around that, because it's been such a crazy but rewarding two years," Wolfe said. "It's been a long time, but it's been the best time."
Wolfe's first year as Miss ND was full of the usual hectic activity, she said, with public appearances, school tours, the Miss America Pageant and more keeping her busy. But going into 2020, with no pageant planned, Wolfe said she had to re-work her plans and learn how to continue her work as Miss North Dakota, while remaining safe and socially distant.
"I learned how to be my own videographer and photographer and editor," she explained. "It was a lot of live action on Zoom and Skype, visiting with individual classes, reading stories; but mostly I made videos that were sent out to teachers so that they could play them at a time of their choosing for their students."
Wolfe's social impact initiative is called #BeThe1To - Teen Suicide Prevention; and has brought awareness to both elementary and high schools regarding mental health, emotions and recognizing the warning signs in someone who may be suicidal.
Wolf said she felt it was important to continue her outreach work to schools around the state especially during the pandemic, when many students felt isolated and alone due to distance learning.
"A lot of students struggled with their mental health going through the pandemic, being stuck at home in isolation. Some kids don't do well with that." She said. "So being able to interact with them either virtually in a video, or live on Zoom, I think it just made the whole experience better."
Wolfe said she is excited to back into the swing of the pageant, with a full slate of activities planned throughout the week leading up to Saturday's big event. This year's candidates arrived in Williston on June 6, with a kick-off event on June 7 with the Basin Kruzers car club.
Preliminary competition is June 9 and 10, with June 11 dedicated to the Outstanding Teen competition, and the new Miss North Dakota being crowned on Saturday, June 12. Wolfe will be very busy this week, making appearances, helping MC and introducing the candidates to the public.
Wolfe said this visit to Williston feels a bit different this time, knowing that when she leaves again, it will be as former Miss North Dakota.
"Every time I've come to Williston over these past two years, it was always for an event and I got to put my crown on, and now I'm going to take it off here and probably not put it back on ever again," she said. "It feels very different, but it feels very rewarding to know that I was able to accomplish so much in these two years. I definitely didn't do it alone, I had so many people supporting me and guiding me."