It's hard to believe, but San Angelo used to host a nationally known beauty pageant that was broadcast all across America. From 1952-1972, this pageant was a big deal on the pageant circuit. Originally, it only included contestants from across Texas.  But in 1958 this pageant went national.

The annual pageant was organized by the National Wool Growers Association (U.S.), American Sheep Producers Council, and the Wool Bureau, Inc.  There she was Miss Wool. She got a tiara, a title and for a year, she got to wear the latest outfits made of wool.  I hope she had a high tolerance for itching.

Photo: Texas Archive of the Moving Image via YouTube
Photo: Texas Archive of the Moving Image via YouTube

This was no slouch of an event.  The 1968 pageant featured nationally known t.v. host, Art Linkletter,  and featured entertainment from 1950's heartthrob, Frankie Avalon. The pageant frequently featured movie star guests and popular singers. By today's standards, the pageant itself was a bit comical.

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The 1963 pageant featured the contestants welcomed by the boys from the West Texas Boys Ranch.  I'll bet that night was fraught with tension in the old bunkhouse. Then, it was off to a pancake breakfast featuring an African American woman dressed as Aunt Jemima. Afterwards, Texas Governor at the time John Connally met the contestants followed by the ladies frolicking in the pool.

The announcer of the pageant then reminded everyone that to qualify for the pageant, a woman must fit in size 10 garments. The contestants were then given a road trip to visit the main wool producing towns of the area at the time like Mertzon and Ozona, and visited the Mexican border town of Ciudad Acuna to see a bullfight,

Photo: Texas Archive of the Moving Image via YouTube
Photo: Texas Archive of the Moving Image via YouTube

Some of the highlights of the pageant included film of the Miss Wool contestants playing with lambs.  They chased them.  They held them, even though some of the contestants and the lambs looked very uncomfortable. There were songs and a lot of dancing, and sheep.  I did mention sheep, right?

I'm not sure whether or not any of these festivities were sponsored by Woolite, but how perfect would that have been?

The Miss Wool of America pageant is long a relic of San Angelo history, but it has left us with a legacy of sorts.  The sheep that adorn our city came as a result of the Wool industry's desire to do something to maintain their visibility in our town. Perhaps we need an official Miss Wool of America Sheep.



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