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Watch: Miss Rīga beauty pageant turns 30

In spring 1988, the Iron Curtain was gradually lifting, and Mikhail Gorbachev's glasnost policy paved way for attempts at democracy across the Soviet Union. Amid that atmosphere, a nationally significant event was held in Rīga: namely, the Miss Rīga 88 beauty pageant, the first such pageant in Latvia following the 1940 Soviet occupation, reports Latvian Radio. 

Organizers had, of course, no experience, but they had more than a fair share of enthusiasm to make up for it. The pageant was organized by the communist youth's Rīga Committee and the Rīga youth center Tonis.

A total of 50 girls and women applied, and following six casting sessions ten young women made it into the finals. Among them were school and university students; a guide; a typist; an artist and a model. They were aged 17 to 23. 

The final, an event of national scale, was held at the Daugava Central Sports Hall and broadcast by Latvian Television live.  

The participants demonstrated their skills in dance, sewing, and more, with Miss Latvia 1930 veteran Erna Emse-Kanska and 17-year-old Ingrida (Miss Vilnius 88), among the jury.

Communist Youth leader Ziedonis Čevers and the famous actor Gunārs Cilinskis were also among the judges, with the latter opening the pageant thusly:

"We'll see today's event as a new and interesting game, in which we'll evaluate if not the most beautiful then the most courageous girls of Rīga, from whom we'll pick the nicest one."  

The winner was Sintija Jenerte, an 18-year-old student at the Rīga 82nd Secondary School. She charmed the audience and the jury with her naturalness and simple cordiality.

Thirty years ago, everyone knew the names and titles of Latvia's most beautiful women, but the popularity of pageants has since gradually died down. 

Above, you can watch a curiously haphazard LTV interview with the winner, with photographers getting in the way of the cameraman and the picture going in and out of focus repeatedly. 

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