Winner of former Miss Community Gardens pageant is a Mr. for the 1st time

·1 min read
Zackary Pendleton, 19, says he didn't think he would win Kensington's new youth ambassador competition. He was 'happy but dumbstruck' when he did.  (Buffie Boily                                                                                                                         - image credit)
Zackary Pendleton, 19, says he didn't think he would win Kensington's new youth ambassador competition. He was 'happy but dumbstruck' when he did. (Buffie Boily - image credit)

For 54 years, the Town of Kensington, P.E.I., has held a pageant to crown Miss Community Gardens during its Harvest Festival.

And every year, the person donning the tiara was a female between the age of 16 and 21.

Not this year.

The winner of the pageant, rebranded as the youth ambassador program, is 19-year-old UPEI engineering student Zackary Pendleton.

"I did not think I'd win. I was happy but dumbstruck," he said.

Lilah MacPherson
Lilah MacPherson

Pendleton was one of three males and five females competing for the title, after Kensington town council voted unanimously last spring to open the contestants to all genders.

The comments I heard were, "Well, it's about time." — Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley

Instead of a tiara, the winner gets a sash.

But they'll still perform many of the same duties — promoting the town, dropping pucks at hockey games, participating in parades and serving as a mentor to the next ambassador.

"I think the tradition kind of still lives on, in a way," said Pendleton, who performed a beekeeping demonstration as part of the competition and wore a kilt for the formal wear portion.

"It's still the youth of Kensington getting together and putting on formal wear and showing off talents. So I think it's the start of something new — maybe something better."

Lilah MacPherson
Lilah MacPherson

Feedback on the format has been positive, from contestants and spectators alike, said Kensington Mayor Rowan Caseley.

"The comments I heard were, 'Well, it's about time.' And yes, it's nice to be inclusive. It's nice to recognize all the youth. It's nice to be moving forward and in this direction.

"We've come of age, I guess."