The Cinderella Scholarship Pageant, founded in 1976 by Carl Dunn and Craig Toler, has grown into the largest and most prestigious pageant system of its kind in the world. It has set new standards of excellence in the youth pageant field. Cinderella is a division of International Productions & Publications, Inc. In addition, IPPI also maintains the headquarters for AAMTC (America’s Amateur Model and Talent Competition), and produces the AAMTC International Competition. More than just a beauty pageant, Cinderella is a youth development scholarship program that offers many opportunities for achievement and recognition to deserving children, teens and young adults. The pageant’s high standards of excellence and principles have won the support of civic and service organizations, educators and clergy from around the world.
With a strong belief that pageants without “pageantry” are nothing more than contests, Cinderella launched its first international finals in Dallas, Texas at the famous Dallas Apparel Mart with a production budget of over $100,000.00. The elaborate extravaganza has been hailed as a milestone in the history of youth pageants; setting new heights for production standards.
After two successful years in Dallas, the pageant moved its international headquarters to Baton Rouge, Louisiana in the fall of 1977, with its finals in the new multi-million dollar Riverside Centroplex Convention Center. From 1977 to 1982 the pageant grew to an enormous scope with official preliminary events in over forty states and raised its prize segment from a meager $12,000.00 to over $55,000.00. The national telecast of the college-age division from Caesar’s Palace in Lake Tahoe brought the pageant into national prominence as the foremost youth development program of its kind.
It was during these years that the pageant developed the most complete pageant staging kit in the industry, making the pageant an excellent fund raising project for civic and service organizations. The staging kit included in-depth instructional materials, the pageant’s own line of custom trophies, crowns and banners, 4-color entry blanks, program book covers and posters which standardized preliminary events across the nation.
Unique with the pageant is the official Cinderella Runway/Modeling Music with electronic tones and signals designed to aid participants in their onstage modeling presentations. This revolutionary idea of coordinating the modeling segment of the pageant has set Cinderella apart from ordinary pageant competitions.
The 80’s & ’90’s…
In 1981 the pageant once again upgraded its international finals by designing three mammoth “storybook sets” for the colorful extravaganza. The sets included a quaint Cinderella’s Village set for casualwear competition, an elegant Cinderella Ballroom set for partywear and a 30-foot tall Cinderella Castle set for the grand finals. In addition, the pageant created a 16-foot tall “Fairy Godmother’s Dress” with over 900 yards of fabric and a giant “Pumpkin Balloon” as a centerpiece for a “Cinderella Fair.”
In 1982 that the pageant contracted with a major trophy company to produce a special mold for a custom trophy figure for its trophies. A beautiful replica of the official “Cinderella Crest” at the top of each Cinderella award makes Cinderella’s trophy line the “oscar” of the pageant industry.
Over the years Cinderella’s international royalty has been among the most celebrated pageant winners in the world. They have appeared in the nationally televised Orange Bowl Parade, Hollywood Santa Claus Parade, Fiesta Bowl Parade and have made personal appearances at the world famous Xanadu Hotel on the Grand Bahama Island. They have traveled thousands of miles appearing at local and state pageants from coast-to-coast.
1983 marked yet another milestone as Cinderella moved its international finals to the new $146-million dollar convention center in Miami, Florida. The nation’s premier resort city provided a glamorous setting for the nation’s most colorful pageant event. A highlight of the first event in Miami was the introduction of Cinderella’s own “Electric Light Fantasy” with over 5,000 twinkle lights outlining Cinderella’s Castle and a life-size Pumpkin Coach built at a cost of over $13,000.
1984 will long be remembered as the year that the pageant system topped the $100,000 mark in awards and scholarships. Cinderella has more than doubled the prizes being presented by any similar pageant in the youth field.
In 1991 the international finals were moved to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in the heartland of America, to provide better geographical access for state delegations. Oklahoma City’s fabulous Myriad Convention Center, which is directly connected by underground tunnel to the Sheraton Century Center Hotel, became the ideal setting for the world’s most spectacular youth event of its kind.
In 1989 and in 1991, the Cinderella community was shaken by the passing of its two founders, Craig Toler, Executive Director of the Cinderella Scholarship Program and Carl Dunn, the President of International Productions and Publications, Inc., the parent company of Cinderella. After the passing of its founders, Cinderella was put under the leadership of Fred Vollman, Jr. and Cinderella’s talented Executive Staff, Donna Breen and Allen Smith. With their dedication and creativity, the Cinderella Scholarship Program prepared itself to enter the 21st century as the undisputed leader in the pageant industry.
In 1994 the Cinderella Organization created the Cinderella Woman Age division as a logical “next step” in its youth development program. Held in conjunction with the International Cinderella Tot thru Teen age divisions, this competition, replaced the Cinderella College Age events.
21st Century Leader…
To begin the 21st Century the 2000 International Cinderella Finals moved “out west” and was held in world famous Las Vegas, Nevada. Cinderella selected Las Vegas’ Cashman Field Theater as the new home for its International Finals!
Since 2004, Cinderella has enjoyed an ever increasing participation from foreign countries and in 2005 boasted the largest international delegation in the pageants history.
Now, celebrating over 30 years of leadership, Cinderella has become the most revered youth development program of its kind in the world. With its emphasis on the positive development of the individual and its commitment to excellence, Cinderella looks forward to the years ahead. From its position of leadership, the pageant looks to a progressive future as it continues to set the standards for the pageant and youth development industry.