When Katie Schroeder and Sadie Oderbrett needed to come up with an event idea for Waseca’s annual Sleigh and Cutter festival, they decided to try something that would not only be fun, but turn the tables a little bit.
Schroeder, recently named Miss Waseca County Sleigh and Cutter, and Oderbrett, recently named Miss Waseca County Sleigh and Cutter Outstanding Teen, came up with: The Mr. Waseca Pageant.
The pageant is, by design, exactly like the ones the girls will go through. Formal wear and fitness and talent competitions, followed by an on-stage question.
“Once you get on stage it’s nerve wracking,” Schroeder said. “We thought it’d be fun to ask them the kinds of questions we get asked, such as, ‘What does beauty mean to you?’”
Shining a light on the rigors of competitive pageantry is part of it, but Schroeder said the main goal is simply to give the people of Waseca a fun event to attend during the community’s signature annual event.
Also, because Schroeder’s win as Miss Sleigh and Cutter means a chance to participate in the Miss Minnesota contest, she must fulfill certain requirements, one of which is to come up with a way to raise at least $250 for the Children’s Miracle Network. Oderbrett is also encouraged to raise money, but as a teen competitor she doesn’t have to raise as much as Schroeder.
So far the feedback they’ve gotten has been good, and they’ve corralled eight competitors so far, both high-school aged and older. Each competitor pays a $25 fee. There may also be a raffle and silent auction. Mr. Waseca is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 22.
This will be the 64th annual Sleigh and Cutter Festival. Organizer Ken Borgmann said each year the festival grows.
The Frosty Contest and Medallion Hunt events each have $500 more in prize money. Musical acts Chris Brooks and the Silver City Boys will perform, as well as Elm Creek Cowboys.
Each year the number of people who attend the various Sleigh and Cutter Festival events grows. Borgmann estimates about 9,000-10,000 people attend their events. He said it’s the biggest annual event for the Waseca community.
Many of the events have a reputation all their own, he said. The Frosty Contest and Medallion Hunt each have been around 17 years. The hockey tournament goes back 13 years. The Children’s Coloring Contest goes back 15 years, and the Senior Citizens Pfeffer Card Tournament goes back 23 years, among others.
Twenty years ago, the festival was a humble one.
“When I took it over it was a day and a half,” Borgmann says. “It was a Friday night chili feed and a Saturday parade.”
And almost every year it gets bigger.
“The community has just been fantastic,” Borgmann said. “I can’t tell you enough about the support we’ve gotten.”
Sleigh and Cutter started Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 22. There is also an event March 22. Visit www.sleighandcutter.org for a full schedule of events.