Miss Oktoberfest 2013, Tara Hebblethwaite

What inspired you to become a Miss Oktoberfest candidate?
Being born and raised in the region of Kitchener-Waterloo, Oktoberfest was always a part of my life in different experiences each year and seeing/meeting Miss Oktoberfest was always a highlight; but, becoming ‘her’ never crossed my mind as something I could do.  However, after graduating from the University of Waterloo in the summer of 2013, the big question of “what’s next” for me was constantly on my mind. Thankfully, one sleepless night,  a suggested “you should watch this” clip was on my news feed of the present Miss Oktoberfest – Lindsay Coulter – and a few alumni, speaking about their experience in the role and the wonders of it. The short but inspiring 2 minute video made me believe this was my “what’s next” and that the woman I had grown to be would compliment the qualities it took to represent Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest in the ambassador role that is Miss Oktoberfest. So, I spent the next 48 hours (as the deadline was exactly two days away!) reading all that I could about the program, reached out to the current reigning Miss for words of advice, and managed to piece together a package to submit on the last day possible!

What was the biggest challenge you had during the competition?
My biggest challenge during the candidacy run for Miss Oktoberfest 2013, was the very first day and the very last day.  Oddly enough, I can be quite a shy gal, so running for a role that involves being 100% the opposite doesn’t sound like something I would want to put myself through. However, once I managed to take a deep breath and walk through the doors on the first day of events and met all the girls, my nerves were diminished. Even though it was a competition, everyone was there for the right reasons, which made it feel not like a competition at all.  And as for the very last day, the hardest part was to challenge myself to believe in myself! After walking out from the interviews it was hard not to question what I said and if my answers were ‘right’, funny, not funny enough, articulate, not so articulate, and so on and so forth. Thankfully, I received some fantastic words of advice – that whatever I said in those interviews were what “Tara” would say and what “Tara” would say and do is good enough, because I left those rooms being me and that is the best ‘right’ answer I could have given!

Tell us about your most memorable outing/moment as a Miss Oktoberfest candidate?
My most memorable moment as Miss Oktoberfest would just have to simply be Opening Day.  The opening day of the 45th festival is one I don’t think I could ever forget and I honestly wish I would have had a ‘go pro’ attached to my crown for it! I was up at 5:00AM and did not rest my head to a pillow until almost 15 hours later, but that was okay with me! I had the chance to travel all across Kitchener-Waterloo to different venues, meet so many different people (people I could never image I would meet!), embrace the culture our region was built on inside out, create friendships and bond together as a family, tap endless kegs,  eat copious amounts of soul-cooked food, polka until my feet were numb, laugh, smile, and simply enjoyed a day where I still can’t begin to say how blessed I was to experience all that I did in one simple day.

How did being part of the Miss Oktoberfest competition enhance your personal and professional life?
The ambassador role of Miss Oktoberfest has provided me so much in both my personal and professional life. In my personal, I can without a doubt say that I have gained a new family, one that has been by my side during not only my reign, but continues to be part of my life in different ways to this day! It further has made me even more confident in myself as I conquered so much during (and after) my reign, and I was able to see a side of me I didn’t know I had in me; one that I am proud to now know! In my professional life, I have met numerous contacts that have mentored and inspired me to achieve new levels (and help me achieve these!) in not only my career path, but even with volunteering within the community. I have had the opportunity to grow into the role of Vice-President of the KW Chapter of MADD Canada, continuing the message of Miss Oktoberfest and ‘festing safely’. The role has also helped me shine in the eyes of K-W Oktoberfest Inc. itself, as I was asked to step into the role of Vice-Chair for one of their largest pre-festival events, the A Blooming Affair Fashion Show, a few months after my reign was over.

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