Discontinuing the Hall of Fame court


In 1965, the Hall of Fame started a tradition that would go on for more than 50 years: the Hall of Fame Pageant. The pageant was made to find a queen and a court that would consist of four girls. The girls purpose was to go around all summer completing a lot of service hours to help the community and the city of Canton. 

Some of the community service the girls completed includes: volunteering at the Special Olympics, building sheds with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at summer camps with disabled children, packaged food for the hungry, and many more.

This 57 year tradition is now coming to an end as of 2021.

“In recent years, we have experienced a steady decline in interest from young women wanting to participate in the pageant. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that events serving our youth are not only relevant but inclusive to all in our community,” said Chris Gumpp who is the vice president of events and development at the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce.

With a combination of the ongoing question as to when the virus will be behind the country and the decrease in local interest from teenage girls, the board has decided it would be in their best interest to discontinue the pageant. 

Currently on the Repository website, is taking a poll as to whether the people are in favor, not in favor, or indifferent to the cancellation of the pageant. As of now, 55% of people are not in favor of the pageant ending, 33% of people agree with the movement, and 12% of people are indifferent.

To become part of the court, you must participate in multiple categories and after each, a portion of the girls will be eliminated. The first part of the pageant was simply to introduce yourself, say where you are from, and where you go to school. After all the girls go through, the judges eliminate 25 contestants simply based off of first impressions.

After the first impression elimination, the girls remaining must all present a 30 second speech over a topic they are passionate about to explain to both the judges and the audience why it is of importance to them and what they will do to help it in our area. 

Once all of the girls discuss their speech, another large portion of the contestants are out of the running to be on the court. 

The final part of the pageant is the fishbowl questions. Each girl will walk up to the front of the stage one by one and pull a piece of paper out of a fish bowl that will have a question on it they have to answer. 

After the fishbowl questions, the judges pick who will be the four court members and the queen out of the remaining girls. 

The Hall of Fame pageant was last hosted in 2019. The court consisted of five girls. 

The first court member is Elaine Smith. Elaine graduated from Hoban High School and went on to study Kinesiology and Pre-Med at Miami University.

 “Representing the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a Royal Ambassador during the summer of 2019 was the best time of my life,” Smith said. “I loved getting to serve my community while also meeting influential people that help our community thrive.”

Next on the court was Maya Polen. Maya is a graduate of Perry High School who is currently studying at Mount Union University to become a biologist in the pre-med major.

The third royal ambassador is Lauren Rhodes. Rhodes graduated from Hoover High School and went on to join the nursing program at Kent State.

“Getting chosen to be on the Hall of Fame court was not only the most fun experience I’ve had, but I also met life long friends through the process,” Said Rhodes. “It is just sad that young girls won’t be able to experience or participate in the pageant.”

Abbey Anderson is a Royal Ambassador as well. Anderson graduated from Louisville High School and is now majoring in Biomedical Humanities.

The last 2019 Royal Ambassador is Haley Burns. Burns graduated from Jackson High School and now is studying early childhood education at Youngstown State University.

The 2019 Hall of Fame queen is Emma Kirkbride. Kirkbride graduated from GlenOak High School and is currently majoring in communications. Kirkbride is now newly married and expecting her first born in October.

After this group of girls spent a whole summer together, COVID-19 continued to grow and get more widespread. With the growth of the pandemic, the 2020 pageant was cancelled to maintain social distancing. 

With COVID-19 effecting an abundance of different traditions and occasions; We can wonder what the pandemic will take from us next. With a tradition as old and monumental as the Hall of Fame Pageant, it is safe to say that anything could happen.