INDIANAPOLIS -- The 500 Festival is set to begin the two-part selection process to choose 33 young women to represent the 2011 500 Festival and Indianapolis 500 at this year's events and statewide outreach programs.
First-round interviews will be on Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Indiana Farm Bureau on East Street in downtown Indianapolis.
The 500 Festival received 278 applications -- the highest number received in the past four years -- from young women representing 37 Hoosier cities and towns and 18 colleges and universities across the state.
Princess Program application numbers have been on a steady rise over the last four years, from 218 in 2008.
The 500 Festival will narrow the field to 66 finalists who will then return for second-round interviews on Feb. 12 at 8 a.m., when judges will select the final 33 who will serve as ambassadors for the 2011 500 Festival.
Newly selected 2011 500 Festival Princesses will be notified by e-mail after 8 p.m. on Feb. 12.
The finalists will be expected to confirm that they accept the honor within five days.
Applicants must be between 19 and 23 years old, single and legal residents of Indiana. Candidates must also be full-time students in a fully accredited Indiana college or university and maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.8 on a 4.0 scale.
The young women will be judged on poise and appearance, communication skills, community involvement and their answers to questions during two, four-minute interviews with a panel of judges.
The 500 Festival Queen will be crowned at the 500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard, presented by ProLiance Energy at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The queen will receive a $2,500 scholarship, and the queen and princesses will also serve as ambassadors for the 2011 Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
Sponsors of the 500 Festival Princess Program include G.Thrapp Jewelers, WTHR and Indiana Blood Center. Apparel and accessory providers include Secret Ingredient, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Vera Bradley.
To learn more about the Princess Program and see last year's court, visit www.500festival.com/events/PrincessProgr...