Niles' queens for this year's Miss Niles and Little Miss Niles were crowned on June 29 at the McKinley Memorial as part of the Harry Stevens Hot Dog Day festivities.
Seven-year-old Gracie Glista won the honor of Little Miss Niles, while 15-year-old Caitlin Seifert was crowned Miss Niles. Both girls demonstrated the traits to proudly represent the city of Niles through the upcoming year.
Cindy Rogers, one of the organizers of the pageant, along with fellow former Miss Niles Rebekah Loveland, were very pleased with the outcome of the event.
"Today was great. It gave the community a chance for the first time in years to see what the pageant is about," Rogers said.
That was just one of the many events that took place as a part of the Harry Stevens Hot Dog Day festivities. Downtown Niles was bustling throughout the day with spectators and vendors.
East State Street was lined with vendors of all sorts from arts and crafts to food tents. Dori MacMillan, the Avenue and Main committee co-chair, said this year's event had double the vendors than at the inaugural Harry Stevens Hot Dog Day in 2013.
The festival kicked off at noon and featured a full gamut of events lasting until 8 p.m. Some of the events included the city's Fourth of July parade, a cornhole tournament, several live band performances, a Civil War reenactment encampment and tours of the McKinley Birthplace Museum.
Of course, no festival in honor of the man who invented the hot dog would be complete without hot dogs, and there were plenty of them. Hot dogs were available for consumption at the event and was the main theme of several events.
There was a hot dog topping contest, a hot dog costume contest, a hot dog eating contest, and let's not forget the wiener dog races.
George Davis Jr., an active member of the community and the man who helped put together the cornhole tournament, was nothing but laughs while taking in the hot dog eating contest.
"Events like this help bring the community together, and it's great for the city of Niles," he said.
The equipment needed for the wiener dog races was organized by Dr. Mike Neopolitan and Dr. James Skiffey along with their families.
"It was a lot of fun, and it brought us together as a family," Neopolitan said.
Co-chair Kristenne Robison discussed future plans for the event. She hopes that it will soon become a two-day celebration and attract even more of the community.
While the festival is all about having community fun, it does still carry the namesake of famous Niles resident Harry Stevens, and the Avenue and Main want to continue to integrate the two together.
The main goal is that Harry Stevens Hot Dog Day not only highlights the Niles community of today but also honors the memory of the history behind it.