WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     Walnut Grove — Richards’ pageant experience goes back to her early childhood years. Her first recollections of the Wilder Pageant were when she was in kindergarten or first grade. At that time her father, Bill Richards, was directing the pageant.

    “I really don’t remember much about it except hanging out backstage with my friends and playing with  Barbie Dolls,” she said.

    While her dad was directing at that time, around the late eighties and early nineties, she played  child roles for about five years in the pageant.

    While she was in high school she worked with the pageant as a stage makeup artist into her college years at Moorhead State College, where she earned her Elementary Education Degree.

    She has been assistant director for  the past nine years, starting as assistant to her dad, and ending with last year’s director Dan Wahl.

    When asked about the difference between  being an assistant and being director she said, “it will be more business. As assistant, I was more being back stage being friends with the cast and crew. As director it will be a different relationship with the cast, it will require more discipline with the whole process. I will now be responsible for making artistic decisions involving the script and cast members.”

    Richards said, “I am looking forward to learning more about the tech stuff with sound and lights. I have never really done much with that in the past.”

    Richards does not plan on making any major changes in the script. “I just want to learn what is needed to step into the pageant as director,” said Richards.

    Richards said, “I am glad I have had a lot of experiences with the years  of my previous involvement with the pageant.”

    Richards announced the hiring of her  assistant. Charlie Sietsema, a high school senior from Luverne. Richards said, “we saw him in the one act play competition this year. I heard he might be interested so I interviewed him over the phone, and he accepted the job.  He has a lot of acting experience so I think he will be a good fit for the job.”

    Richards said, “being director was not a specific goal for me to do — but now I am excited to try a different role in the pageant. Plus I can always bounce things off my dad, who is really a good mentor.”