Vernon Winter Carnival vice-chairperson Martin von Holst (from left), Queen Silver Star Excellence Program committee members Celine Grosch and Kyla Henry and current Princess Mackenzie Kuziw and Queen Angitha Mriduraj discuss the shortage of candidates that have put the program at a crossroad. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

Vernon’s Queen Silver Star program in jeopardy

The entry deadline has been extended to the end of the month due to a shortage of candidates.

A Vernon Winter Carnival without royalty?

It could happen for the first time ever in 2019.

The Carnival and Queen Silver Star Excellence Program committee has extended an entry deadline to the end of the month as a shortage of candidates has put the program at a crossroads.

“We have four, potentially five, candidates at this point and we need a minimum of 10 to make it (program) feasible,” said Carnival vice-chairperson Martin von Holst. “That’s where we are. We are making a last-ditch effort. Hopefully, the media will help us put that word out to the public.”

The program is an opportunity for young ladies aged 15-18 for the purpose of learning various life skills including: interviewing skills, automotive, financial planning, and etiquette.

Numbers in the Queen Silver Star Excellence Program have been dwindling. The committee has extended the boundaries in the past few years to include candidates from Armstrong and Falkland, and last year, there were only seven candidates.

Two of them, Angitha Mriduraj and Mackenzie Kuziw, were chosen Queen and Princess Silver Star 58 respectively. Both said the excellence program was invaluable to them.

Related: Queen Silver Star crowned

Related: Queen Silver Star candidates shine

“The program is really important to the community and really important to me,” said Mriduraj. “It has taught me a lot of skills, helped me with my self-confidence which has definitely been boosted through the Toastmasters classes and you’re really pushed into the community which really helps work your connections.

The program has helped over 275 young ladies since 1961.

“It’s also good on applications, resumes. It impacts all aspects of a young lady, for sure,” added Mriduraj.

Kuziw said candidates get involved with so many volunteer stints.

“It shows the community how much you do care,” said Kuziw, pointing out candidates help out at events such as Vernon Vipers hockey games. “We like to show our support for everyone around us who are showing their support for us.”

Current program committee members Celine Grosch and Kyla Henry are past candidates. Grosch, who competed for the Crown in 2013-14, and is now a trial coordinator for a Vernon law firm, said there are many benefits to the program.

“Scholarship, scholarship, scholarship, it’s a great opportunity for that,” said Grosch. “There’s so much learning to be done. I didn’t realize how much there was to learn. There are a variety of classes. It’s not just a fashion show, a talent show and Proclamation. There are so many other things that you can learn and can gain from that you won’t get anywhere else.”

There are a wide variety of scholarships available for the candidates. Those chosen Queen and Princess will receive a scholarship for their post-secondary pursuits. There are scholarships for the program’s essay award, knowledge award, talent and speech, and for the candidate who has blossomed the most during the year.

“Beyond that, the Queen Silver Star Excellence Program looks great on a resume or scholarship application, said Henry, a Queen’s candidate in 2009-10. “It means that you’re a community leader, that you’re a volunteer in your community.

Candidates usually attend a pair two-hour training classes per week from September to February, and training for events such as the talent show would add a bit more time.

Related: Silver Star royalty grateful for opportunity

Related: Queen Silver Star applicants sought

The program, said Mriduraj, is more than a beauty pageant.

“I definitely think a lot of people only see the crown,” she said. “A lot of people don’t see the behind-the-scenes work, the volunteering, the classes, Toastmasters. It’s not just about the Crown. It’s about so much more and I hope the community can look beyond that.”

Henry, an elementary school teacher, said the program helps her daily in her career.

“I gained so many skills through Queen Silver Star,” she said. “The Toastmasters’ public speaking was a big part of my education in Queen Silver Star. It helped me in my university years and it helps me every day still, talking to students, parents and colleagues.”

The Queen Silver Star Excellence Program is open to all North Okanagan girls between the ages of 15 and 18. It teaches candidates valuable life skills.

“It will help you with confidence,” said Kuziw. “You see that so much through the program.”

Added Henry: “I really encourage girls to think about it, and to consider what this means to our community. We’ve had a Queen Silver Star for 58 years. It would be a real shame to not have someone this year.”

Grosch said those who are unsure about entering can reach out to anyone on the program committee.

The deadline to enter is July 31. Queen and Princess Silver Star the 59th would be crowned on January 31, 2019, at the Performing Arts Centre.

More information on the program can be found by contacting or on the Vernon Winter Carnival website,

Related: Meet your Queen Silver Star candidates

Related: Introducing your Queen Silver Star candidates

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