FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Penny Simon
A CENTURY-OLD SMALL-TOWN TRADITION FINALLY GETS ITS DUE
THE RHINESTONE SISTERHOOD celebrates festival queens—
the embodiment of local cultures, unique traditions,
and can-do community spirit
Who needs beauty queens fumbling answers about geography or pageant girls parading in swimsuits? For a hundred years, America’s small-town festivals have chosen girls with brains bigger than their crowns to represent agriculture, industry, and civic pride. With a serious work ethic and love of community, America’s festival queens hit the highways and rural routes in every corner of the country to promote their festivals—all while juggling jobs, school, dating, and family. Exuberant and big-hearted, THE RHINESTONE SISTERHOOD: A Journey Through Small-Town America, One Tiara at a Time by David Valdes Greenwood (on sale April 27) brings that world to life.
The embodiment of local spirit, festival queens represent a town’s or county’s greatest resource. These girls aren’t just given a crown and the benefits that go with it; they have to work for it. To win their titles, they must first prove their knowledge of decidedly unglamorous subjects from meat-packing to animal-skinning, and convince the judges they can spend a year enthusiastically sharing their knowledge. With titles like Catfish Queen and Swine Queen, and royal duties ranging from leading parades to kissing frogs to doing PR for local industries, these hardworking girls are often their town’s lone ambassador, the only kind of advertising that an out-of-the-way community can afford as a way of attracting visitors. At the same time, they are the living face of local tradition.
“A festival queen is not a beauty pageant winner but a civic representative,” says Valdes Greenwood. “She will spend the year of her term selling her town and its festival to strangers all over the state, and if she fails, no one will care how lovely she looked along the way. This is why festival queens, unlike traditional beauty queens, come in all shapes and sizes.”
While roughly a thousand festivals are held all over America each year (60 in Ohio alone, dozens in Washington state, and scores more from Hawaii to Maine, Florida to Wisconsin), the festival hotbed is Louisiana, which hosts more than 130 festivals, some with attendance in the tens of thousands in a single weekend. THE RHINESTONE SISTERHOOD takes us deep into this world via the true stories of four Louisiana “sisters of the sash”—the Frog, Fur, Cotton, and Cattle Queens—and their quest to win the ultimate crown, Queen of Queens. Traveling across the state, Valdes Greenwood introduces us to Chelsea, Lauren, Brandy, and Kristen, local queens with lives full of public speaking, pig chases, and pageant politics. We ride along with the girls during their one-year reign, where families and boyfriends can be as complicated as judge’s panels, and a queen’s dreams may be at the mercy of a Category 4 hurricane.
High-spirited yet down-home, suspenseful and genuinely moving, The Rhinestone Sisterhood is, at heart, a celebration of wholesome Americana and a story of female friendship and rivalry, triumph and disappointment—not to mention a Frog Queen who just wouldn’t quit.
About the Author:
David Valdes Greenwood is a lecturer at Tufts University and a contributor to the Boston Globe. He is the author of two memoirs, Homo Domesticus and A Little Fruitcake. Visit him online at www.DavidValdesGreenwood.com and www.RhinestoneSisterhood.com.
The Rhinestone Sisterhood: A Journey Through Small Town America, One Tiara at a Time
By David Valdes Greenwood
Crown – On sale April 27, 2010 – 288 pages
$25.00 – 978-0-307-46527-6