by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Posen royalty will forever be on display at the polka pavilion with the debut of a wall dedicated to former Miss Posen portraits.
During festival weekend, there never seemed to be a lack of people gazing at it or taking photos with their phones.
From all accounts, it was the buzz of the 2018 festival.
ALONG WITH the portraits, there is a list of past queens going back to 1952 complete with grand marshals.
The project became a reality when the Posen Chamber of Commerce met and tried to decide on a new parade grand marshal. Nominations were made during the course of the meeting.
“One of the members said, ‘wasn’t he a parade marshal once before,’ ” said board member Jimmie Hentkowski, who also serves as chamber historian. “I said, ‘why don’t you look at the list.’ They said they had no list. They never kept track from year-to-year.”
That’s when Hentkowski took it upon himself to come up with a record, but it did not stop there.
“I thought it would be real nice to see a photo of every queen from the beginning,” he said. “I started on that in December. I started contacting the queens, parents or relation, whatever.”
Some of them sent photos, while others proved to be a challenge to nail down.
“There were a lot of phone calls,” said Hentkowski. “Some of them you would call and they would forget. You would call them back.” He would call back four times.
“There were three woman I could not make contact with,” he said. “Nobody had a clue where they lived.”
There were seven that said they had no photos.
MIDWAY INTO the project, Hentkowski turned to the publisher of Presque Isle Newspapers and portrait photographer, Richard Lamb, for help. Hentkowski encouraged the former Miss Posens to bring their portraits to him at the Advance to copy, retouch and resize for the display. Those were donated to the chamber for the project.
Lamb has been taking the current official portraits of Miss Posen for more than a decade. In addition to donating those portraits he took, he worked Photoshop magic on more than half of the photos Hentkowski gathered for the impressive display.
Hentkowski was able to get the display up the day before the start of the festival. It includes flowers and a decorative fence.
Only one of the former queens, Betty Modrzynski, is no longer alive. She was crowned in 1957. Two years later, there was no queen because of an outbreak of hepatitis A.
Since then it has been continuous. The last name in the community with the most crowns is Romel with seven, including the current queen, Faith Ann Romel.
The record is complete, but if there are better portraits available, Hentkowski would be interested in getting them on display.
He would prefer a photo with a crown.
In the early days, the queen was not crowned until the parade.
“The parade was stopped and the queen went on the stage to be crowned by some dignitary,” said Hentkowski.
Next up, will be an elusive list of former chamber presidents.