November, 2011 – Fairhope, Alabama – Eastern Shore Dogwood Trail Maids

Posted on November 24, 2011


It’s a Southern thing.

Beautiful young ladies dressed in long, pastel antebellum-style gowns with matching bonnets and pantaloons.

As they float down streets, darting in and out of shops, they’re frequently asked by amazed tourists to pose for photographs.

When you see them you know you’re in the middle of yet another festival or event happening somewhere on the Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay.

They are the Eastern Shore Dogwood Trail Maids – six high school sophomore or junior girls with a GPA of 2.5 or higher, who were the winners in a pageant-style competition sponsored by the Eastern Shore Optimist Club and area businesses.

The yearly competition is held before a panel of five judges, and is focused on poise, composure and ability to converse comfortably with all ages.  The program is in its 51st year.

Each Maid serves a one-year term and receive a both a gown and a $1,000 college scholarship in exchange for over 200 hours of community service.

Trail Maids appear at local, state and national festivals and events as goodwill ambassadors for the Eastern Shore area of Baldwin County.

Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the whole thing.  Some believe the costumes reflect a painful part of the South’s history that’s best left buried in the past, even though though Maid alumnae do include numerous non-Caucasian women.

Some refer to their elaborate gowns as “slave dresses”.

But are they?

Are they really a celebration of the dark days of Southern slavery, or do they simply represent traditional values of grace and good manners, Southern hospitality and friendliness, and a love and appreciation of all things beautiful?

After all, these same values are very much alive today, regardless of race.

It’s a Southern thing.

Posted in: Travel - Alabama