National Golden Queen, where are you?

“A major promotion during 1956 was the National Golden Queen Festival, presided over by Queen Shirley Bagwell. Many beauties from the four major tobacco raising states entered the Queen’s contest, and Governor [Orval] Faubus of Arkansas was a key speaker….”

— From “Selma’s Colorful Century, 1867-1967”  (

Whatever happened to the National Golden Queen Festival?

And to Shirley Bagwell? She was also a semifinalist in the 1956 Miss USA pageant, but lacking a photo I can’t say for sure this is her royal depiction on the pinback button. Is there a Golden Queen expert in the house?

7 thoughts on “National Golden Queen, where are you?”

  1. There is a photo of Shirley Bagwell and a writeup about her participation in a Burlington (NC) parade in “The Daily Times-News” on Nov 21, 1956. It says that she “attends Peace College in Raleigh and is an accomplished pianist, having studied at the famed Juilliard School in New York.” The button is definitely an image of her.

  2. Interesting picture! And impressive that Ms Bagwell can strike so ethereal a pose while looking “at the effect of black shank on tobacco crops.”

  3. I am pretty sure this is my grandma. The looks very much like her when she was young. Also, the description from the “The Daily Times-News” is completely accurate.

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