The first ever Little Miss Mattituck Tess Bannon, center, prepares to crown her successor, Kelly Crabtree, left, in July 1979. Courtesy photo: Tess Nopper

It was July of 1978 when 7-year-old Tess Bannon was crowned the first ever Little Miss Mattituck at the Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural street fair.

Nearly 40 years later, she still remembers standing on the stage sporting her Dorothy Hamill hairdo and receiving the red sash and homemade cardboard crown.

“I remember at that age I felt like an awkward ugly duckling,” Tess (Bannon) Nopper recalled yesterday. “And then I was chosen to represent Mattituck and Love Lane. It was so special to be so welcomed in the community.”

Nopper, who grew up in Mattituck and now lives in Wading River, has fond memories of her childhood on the North Fork.

Tess Nopper today. Courtesy photo: Tess Nopper

“As a kid I loved going to the beaches and I enjoyed working at BG’s Cafe next to the movie theater,” she recalls. “I knew everybody in town. My dad was a Southold Town policeman and I was close with so many people in Mattituck.”

Nopper, who is a social worker, appreciates that the Little Miss Mattituck contest isn’t judged on a child’s beauty.

“The focus of the contest is choose a child who can represent Mattituck; someone who has good manners and is articulate,” she said.

The Mattituck Chamber of Commerce is planning a reunion of as many former Little Miss and Little Mister Mattitucks as possible for its 40th annual street fair July 8. If you or someone you know was a Little Miss or Mister Mattituck and would like to participate in the special anniversary event, email Terry McShane.

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