New coordinator sought for Henning Festival, Little Miss Henning

Photo by Chad Koenen
The Henning Festival pageant is searching for a new coordinator after Courtney Hendricks recently announced she was stepping down from her post.

By Chad Koenen


When the Henning Festival pageant was in search for a new director in 2019, Courtney (Wiese) Hendricks remembered the lasting impact that being a member of the royal court left on her as a senior at Henning High School. Hendricks was crowned as the Henning Festival Queen in 2016 and wanted to ensure that girls in Henning would have the same opportunity to represent their community and try something new during their teenage years. 

“I took over the pageant in 2019 when Tena Fraki stepped down as the director. I decided to take over as director because I didn’t want to see the pageant that has been a staple part of Henning and the Henning Festival for, at that time almost 70 years, just end. I truly believe the pageant instills several things in the girls who are part of it,” said Hendricks. “They learn how to speak publicly, they learn confidence or embrace the confidence they already have, and they get the opportunity to go through the interview process- something they will continue to do many times throughout their lives.”

While she has enjoyed the opportunity to help both the Henning Festival royalty, and now the Little Miss Henning royalty represent the community for the past four years, Hendricks recently moved to Fargo and will no longer be able to make the long drives in the summer to continue being in charge of the program moving forward. 

As a result, Hendricks is hoping to pass the Henning tiara to a new individual, or group of people, who are interested in keeping the long-standing tradition in Henning alive. 

“I have decided to step down as the director of the pageant because I recently got married and am living in Fargo, so I will not be able to host practices or coordinate all of the events as easily,” said Hendricks.

Knowing of the challenges in getting back to Henning next summer to organize the pageant and practices, Hendricks said she is stepping away from the pageant now in order to give people the opportunity to step forward to keep the program alive in town. Hendricks said the pageant mostly consists of practices with both the Henning Festival and Little Miss Henning candidates leading up to the Henning Festival in July. That includes a dance routine for the Little Miss candidates, as well as helping the Henning Festival royalty prepare for interview questions and speeches that they will be asked by the judges. Once the pageant is completed the coordinator then helps to make sure the Henning royalty is signed up for parades and answer any questions that may come up over the year.  

Even though it may be a bit of work for the weeks leading up to the pageant, Hendricks said she has enjoyed the opportunity to serve her community in the pageant coordinator role. She said it has been a lot of fun and an experience she will never forget. 

“I have enjoyed so many things about being in charge of the pageant over the last several years,” said Hendricks. “My favorite part is watching the girls grow in confidence and in friendship with each other and the current royalty throughout the practices. Probably my favorite part of the pageant has been adding the dance routine back into the program as a judged event. The girls have a blast learning the routine from a formal dance instructor who comes only to the first practice and teaches the entire dance in one night. It is so fun to watch them help each other learn and to see them laughing as they try to figure out the steps. The dance is also my favorite part for the Little Miss Henning candidates.”

In order to keep the Henning Festival pageant alive, Hendricks is hoping someone will step forward to fill the pageant coordinator role. In a time when so many pageants are going by the wayside due to a lack of volunteers and candidates, Henning has been able to maintain a pageant for well over 70 years. 

“I think that the pageant and the Henning royalty are important for the community for a few reasons. One: The Henning pageant has been a part of Henning for over 70 years. It is an important part of the festival. Two: The royalty are not just in it for the title, they are asked to represent Henning in area parades and events, letting other towns know about Henning and getting to know more about other towns. Three: The candidates learn valuable skills such as interviewing, public speaking, and confidence,” said Hendricks. 

Anyone who has questions or would like more information about being in charge of the Henning Festival pageant should contact Hendricks by email at or call Thalmann’s Insurance at 583-2065.