WILLIAMSBURG — The crowd at Colonial Heritage Country Club broke into applause as the state of New York, represented by Dustin Kilgore Ramos, was crowned the 2023 winner of the Miss America Party Williamsburg.
Started by David Hoar and his partner Mark Douglas in their home, the Miss America Party Williamsburg Fundraiser marked its 20th anniversary this year. The event supports the Surry Elementary School Backpack program in partnership with the Kip Kephart Foundation.
“It was our best year ever,” said Hoar, “We raised over $55,000.”
The event is invite-only, although anyone can request an invitation as space allows. Participants can pre-purchase a state to represent before the event or take a chance to receive a state at the door. People have been known to show up several hours prior to the start to get a state sash.
The night kicks off with champagne and entertainment before the live auction and raffle prizes begin.
“Our raffle is different from any other,” said Hoar. Drawing winners are given the opportunity to chose from the variety of prizes available versus being handed a specific item.
This year, the raffle prizes included Apple watches, a scooter and a KitchenAid mixer. “This year, the vintage items were extremely popular,” Hoar continued, “People loved that these were not typical raffle prizes like a gift certificate.”
In addition to the raffle, live auction items included cruises, three nights in Belize, private chef service and a vintage mink coat.
This event is different, explained Hoar, the goal is for everyone to come and have four hours of fun, laughter, entertainment, and maybe winning something, all while supporting a worthy cause.
Garry Via, who has attended the annual event since 2012, said, ” The Miss America Party is such a great event. A ballroom full of supporters having a wonderful time while raising funds for a great cause.”
Proceeds help feed the future of Surry Elementary students in need. Each week during the school year, approximately 100 pre-K through fourth grade children are sent home with backpacks of satisfying and nutritional food.
“The 20th year for the Miss America fundraiser was a beautiful turnout, you could feel the energy and love Mark and David put into raising money for the kids of Surry,” said volunteer Nicole Pereira, “I’m honored I got to be part of it.”
Hoar said he is not sure what the pageant’s future holds, but is proud that the event has continued to grow and give back to the community.
“It was a great, great year. We saw the spirit of charity more this year than before. The kids that we started the backpack program for are the main recipients of the money we make and knowing we feed over 100 children every weekend is pat on the back enough for us.”
To learn more about the event, visit the Miss America Party Williamsburg Facebook page.