Days of '47 queen Maren Paris Cline is a musician, returned missionary and, currently, an intern at the Deseret News. We sat down with her to round up details on the pageant, the people and her pioneer heritage. Note: Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
Deseret News: Tell me about your background.
Maren Cline: I am from North Salt Lake, Utah. I went to Woods Cross High School, and I currently attend Brigham Young University. I am studying news media with an emphasis in broadcast journalism, and I’m minoring in business and music with an emphasis in harp. I got back from an LDS mission in Nagoya, Japan, this past December.
DN: How long have you been with the Deseret News and what do you do?
MC: I’ve been with the Deseret News since May, and I have an internship making videos for their social media platforms.
DN: What was the Days of ’47 pageant process like?
MC: It’s not your traditional pageant where you have a platform. Essentially the platform becomes the pioneers, and that’s who we represent if we win. A lot of what the pageant had us do was speak. We had onstage questions, an interview and presented statements. Through those processes, as well as the reviewing of an extensive application, the judges select the royalty.
DN: How did it feel to win the pageant?
MC: I was full of so much gratitude and felt so blessed. That week was actually BYU’s finals week, and so there was so much going on — running back and forth, taking tests, studying in between. So being able to do both of those things, and at the end of the pageant, having the opportunity to win — it was such a blessing and I was filled with gratitude that it all worked out.
DN: The Days of ’47 royalty reigns for a full year. What do you do during that time?
MC: We represent pioneers — past and present — the state of Utah, Days of ’47 and Daughters of Utah Pioneers. We speak at a variety of events, attend engagements, parades and participate in service projects, and we are continually booking (additional events) throughout the year. We have a program where we speak and then we perform a musical number.
DN: Days of ’47 pageant participants are required to have pioneer ancestry to compete. What is your pioneer heritage?
MC: At the pageant, we represent an ancestor. My ancestors traveled on the Willie and Martin handcart companies, and the ancestor that I had the opportunity to represent was Elizabeth Whittear Sermon. I felt such a deep sense of gratitude to her and I felt that I grew to know her in a very special way during the pageant.
DN: Tell me about your attendants.
MC: They are amazing. There’s first attendant Tess Hanson, and she’s from South Jordan. She goes to the University of Utah and she’s studying pre-med to be a pediatrician. My second attendant, Brittny Millington, is studying advertising at BYU, and she also lives in South Jordan. As a threesome, we are united. Wherever we go, we try to complement each other the best we can so our presentation can be powerful.
DN: What’s the best part of being involved with the Days of ’47?
MC: Utah is full of modern-day pioneers who have done incredible things, and we have an opportunity to speak to them and learn from them. The other incredible thing is having a message that brings light. When we learn about the pioneers, light comes. Hope comes. Faith comes. There’s a special pioneer spirit that is brought to a room when we remember those who have gone before.
DN: What do you hope people learn from the Days of ’47 royalty?
MC: I hope that they can learn the importance of remembering. Our ancestors are closer than we think, and as we learn about them, we learn about ourselves. Their experiences and trials had meaning and from learning about how they overcame those trials, we can learn how we can overcome similar trials. I also want people to understand the meaning of the pioneer spirit. In the face of trepidation and difficulty, a pioneer selflessly lays the way for those who will come after. Selfless love is the motive.
DN: Any advice for anyone thinking about competing in next year's pageant?
MC: Do it! It is such an incredible opportunity to grow close to an ancestor as well as to meet amazing girls that are passionate about similar things. The pageant requires your voice, your passion and your best self. It is an experience that offers a lot of growth. If you're interested, start learning about those pioneer ancestors now.
Check out the Days of ’47 royalty blog to keep up with their events and appearances.