Miss West Duluth Pageant kicks off Spirit Valley Days

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Spirit Valley Days kicked off Thursday afternoon with the Miss West Duluth pageant held at Mr. D’s. 

“This pageant is so wonderful in a lot of different ways, a scholarship and also the fact that it’s not a beauty pageant, it is based on character,” said Miss West Duluth 2022 Maddie Watts.

Ringo Kienitz was crowned Miss West Duluth Princess in 2007. Kienitz now coordinates the pageant, keeping the tradition alive. 

“It is a scholarship pageant that is donated by the Irving Community Club, and this has happened since the late 1980s,” said Kienitz. “Miss West Duluth represents Duluth as a whole, and it’s really nice to have something like that really shine on West Duluth. I’m a local. I grew up here, I went to the schools here. So it’s important to me that we can still carry on that tradition.” 

The first-ever Miss West Duluth Princess, Kerri Shea, was present at this year’s pageant.

“I grew up, born and raised in West Duluth, graduated from Denfeld High School, and I still live in the community,” said Shea. “I am raising my children in the community and my daughter was also Miss West Duluth.” 

The pageant has changed in some ways since the eighties.

“The first year, the Duluth Business Association for Spirit Valley put it together and they ran it like a room, like a real pageant. They did a fashion show. There were a couple of bridal shops in town that lent us girls dresses,” said Shea. “We walked on a stage, and then we had to sell buttons, Spirit Valley Days’ buttons. And we also had to do a panel of interviews.”

Being proud to be from West Duluth has remained a constant for participants over the years. Madeline Juntunen was crowned this year’s Miss West Duluth. During Thursday’s pageant, Juntunen was asked how she would respond if someone said that West Duluth was not a nice place to live. Her response was focused on the kindness of the community. 

“The schools are amazing here. Small businesses are amazing,” said Juntunen. “I’m constantly seeing people helping each other, like neighbors, helping neighbors shovel, people helping each other on the side of the road with car troubles. There’s a constant of seeing people help out. It’s just a beautiful and kind place to live. I’m so proud to live here. I’ve lived here my whole life, and I don’t regret a minute of it.”

Spirit Valley Days will continue Friday through the weekend. The full event schedule can be found here: