The National Festival Queen Competition started in 1963 as a part of the Festival activities with the ‘Miss Jamaica’ competition, whose main focus was on beauty. Carol Joan Crawford won the Miss Jamaica title in 1963, and then went on to win the Miss World Competition that same year.
In 1964, Mitzie Contstantine (now Mitzie Seaga) won the Miss Jamaica title and placed third in the Miss World Competition.
Thirteen years later, things changed and the need for greater emphasis on cultural Awareness prompted a shift in focus. As a result, in 1975, the ‘Miss Jamaica’ title was dropped from the Festival programme in favour of National Festival Queen, who would be judged for her cultural awareness, community involvement, attitude to work and general knowledge, in addition to personality and physical appearance.
The first winner of the new title was Lydia Malcolm, who went away to London on a scholarship right after she was crowned. Pamela Alvaranga (no Pamela Powell), Miss St. Elizabeth, who was first runner up that year, acted as the National Queen for 1975.
The title was changed in 1999 from ‘National Festival Queen’ to ‘Miss Jamaica Festival Queen’ to accommodate a clearer understanding of the title when the queen visits other countries.
The contest has continued as part of the Annual Festival celebrations and has given birth to some of the brightest female minds in Jamaica today.