MEMORIES of Queen of Carrick contests spring as easily to mind as famous Ayr United victories - and, probably, more often.
Alternatively, it could be said (and it frequently is in the 'Tiser office) that Queen of Carrick week and the football season provide the highlights of my working year.
Over the past decade I have been concerned with both the Maybole event and the on-goings at Somerset Park and it is interesting to track their respective records.
The football club has had its highs and lows, those memorable First Division and Premier League terms being tempered by the fall to a lower grade a couple of years ago
But the Queen of Carrick event has grown in stature and importance during the last 10 years to emerge as one of the most popular fixtures on Maybole's social calendar.
That was not always the case, however. In 1969, when the event was staged by the now-departed Maybole Attractions Committee, the title was the thing. The prize-money offered was little more than a token, a paltry sum compared with the rewards offered in recent years.
Not that the contest was any less important on those days. It was the glittering highlight of the annual summer dance and blushing, nervous contestants were invited to take part from the dance floor.
As times changed, so did the format of the dance and it has gone through several stages before reaching its present stature.
One year, for instance, a disco replaced the traditional band. . . and the Town Hall was busier than ever.
The ill-fated Charities Committee handled the organisation, with a fair degree of success, for a couple of years, but the administration has fallen on a small band of enthusiasts recently.
It was the Charities Committee which did most to transform the Queen of Carrick contest from a homely, pleasant event into a prestigious beauty contest. They encouraged widespread sponsorship to such an extent that the girl who wins can now expect to pick up prizes valued in the region of £400.
With the help of local business - principally Ellerman Travel, British Caledonian (Scottish Manager Gordon Mason lives in Alloway) and Ayr Bedding Centre the competition offers prizes guaranteed to attract some of the loveliest girls in the West of Scotland.
Over the years, Maybole has boasted a host of well-known beauties. Jackie McCulloch and Jan Harkness both won the Miss Ayr crown; Shauna Brown was Miss STV for a year; Jeanne Jardine was Miss RAFA and Yvonne Gibson has figured in many top Scottish contests.
At no time, during the 10 years, has the judges' job been an easy one, and those with the responsibility of closing the winner have often had cause to thank their thick skins. There was one famous occasion when the result was not universally acclaimed and one spectator reckoned the Advertiser circulation in Maybole would plummet to unheard of depths.
I survived, the paper has survived, long may the Queen of Carrick contest survive to provide me with a diary entry looked forward to with relish.
For the record, the decade's Queen of Carrick winners were: