More than half a century after it was hosted for the first and only time, the Miss Lake Texoma beauty pageant has returned.

The two-night competition was brought back with the help of the reigning winner, local marinas and other organizations. The pageant kicks off Wednesday night at the Highport Marina with a one-piece swimsuit presentation by contestants as well as a question-and-answer session. Contestants return Thursday night for the evening-gown portion of the competition and the Lake Texoma Association’s Bash for Cash fundraiser before a panel of three judges will crown the winner.

“We’re having a bona fide, old-fashioned beauty pageant, and it’s centered around poise and high morals,” said current Miss Lake Texoma Pam Daniel. “An all-American, small town girl is who we’re looking for.”

The first Miss Lake Texoma pageant was held on Labor Day weekend in 1966 and coincided with that year’s hosting of the Madill Driver World Championship boat race in 1966. Daniel, a graduate of Denison High School’s Class of 1964, was named the winner or rather the “queen” of the competition and has retained the title ever since. She said the competition faded into decades of obscurity due largely to a lack of public and sponsor interest, but added that she couldn’t be happier for its return and to pass the crown and sash along to the next winner.

“I’m just thrilled that the tradition is going to be carried on,” Daniel said. “There’s no reason for somebody to be holding the reins for 52 years and there’s nothing important about holding the record or the title for all these years. The important thing is keeping the contest going and celebrating the wonderful young women of Lake Texoma.”

Lake Texoma Association Assistant Director Brandi Burkhalter said the nonprofit was happy to serve as a primary sponsor of the revived pageant and expected the event to draw even more attention to the happenings and offerings around Lake Texoma.

“Our job is to preserve, protect and promote the lake,” Burkhalter said. “So we feel like, through this pageant, it’s helping us do that. And we’re excited to find an ambassador in Miss Lake Texoma and she will be able to help us do that too.”

In addition to receiving a cash prize of $500, Burkhalter said the winner will be asked to attend various association and member events throughout the year. But Burkhalter said the most important appearance for Miss Lake Texoma will come with the next competition.

“Next year, we’ll be excited for her to come back and crown the new queen,” Burkhalter said.

With plans to continue the pageant next year already on the books, Daniel said she hopes the contestants and winner of this year’s competition enjoy the experience, feel empowered and count themselves lucky.

“I hope they savor the journey,” Daniel said. “Lake Texoma is the crown jewel of Grayson County and all the other counties in North Texas and Oklahoma that it touches. So whoever represents the lake should feel very honored and proud to continue the revision of this new tradition, that we hope will continue for decades and generations.”