“Little girls with dreams become women with a vision.”

Dear Retiring Pageant Girls:


Dear Retiring Pageant Girls: This is an open letter to all of you girls out there that have retired from the pageant scene. Whatever your reason: aged out, financial reasons, personal reasons, we get it. Times change and sometimes so do our paths. Take it from Grace, although the pageant life may look different for you now, it’s never gone.

A few years ago, I asked myself this question frequently. I held three titles in dairy pageants from 2017 to 2019. I was living, breathing, and sleeping the dairy industry. I loved being a part of the day-to-day operations on a farm, showing my dairy cattle at local, regional, and national shows. And I loved using my voice to make a difference in the industry.


My passion ran deep for dairy farming and in 2017, I found myself wanting to take a larger platform to make a change in the industry. For a little girl, I had big dreams and big shoes to fill! My mother served as the Iowa Dairy Princess in 1989 and exactly 29 years later, I found myself in my mother’s shoes.

Grace Howe Dairy Princess Retired Pageant Girl

 I knew that eventually, I would have to retire my crowns and start the next chapter of my life. Starting the next chapter is different for everyone. But for me, I retired my last crown right after high school graduation. I didn’t really know what was next for me. I had some sort of plan for my future life, but that’s not too reliable at the age of 18.

Grace Howe at the Iowa State Fair Grace Howe Dairy Princess Retired Pageant Girl

Weeks after handing off my crown to the next talented lady, I packed my bags and headed to college at Iowa State University. My experience as a queen in the agricultural industry led me to an agriculture school where I could continue to use my voice. They say college is the best time of your life, and for me that has been 100% true. The transition from high school to college however is NOT the best time of your life. Your confidence in everything you’ve accomplished earlier in life suddenly doesn’t mean a whole lot. You may question your passion and yourself as a person.

Grace Howe speaking as Alternate Iowa Dairy Princess Grace Howe Dairy Princess Retired Pageant Girl

Having the opportunity to be in pageants and hold several titles may not have meant a whole lot when coming to a school of 30,000 people, but those experiences gave me something special. It gave me the ability to communicate. It gave me a great knowledge of my industry. It gave me memories. It gave me confidence in who I was and what I was passionate about. It gave me life-long skills that will benefit me even as I start the next chapter of my life after college.

Grace Howe with Governor Kim Renyolds Grace Howe Dairy Princess Retired Pageant Girl

After you retire your crown, and you ask yourself what’s next, I want you to remember all your queen experience has given you. The skills and self-confidence pageants have given you will carry you farther than you could imagine. I wish at 18-years-old I knew the skills I developed while being a queen would be helpful years down the road.

Grace Howe with cattle as Iowa Dairy Princess Grace Howe Dairy Princess Retired Pageant Girl

 Serving the state’s dairy farmers and holding three different titles was an experience I will soon not forget. So to those retiring pageant/queen girls out there… no matter what is next for you, always remember where your passion lies and where your roots are. And do not ever fail to see your worth.

Grace Howe Iowa Dairy Princess Alternate 2018-2019 Grace Howe Dairy Princess Retired Pageant Girl

“Little girls with dreams become women with a vision.”



A past Iowa Dairy Princess

grace howe queen connection

Grace Howe

Grace is former intern for Queen Connection that is a student double majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication and Agriculture & Society. She has a background in pageants and a passion for marketing.

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