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The pageant began in Santa Cruz in 1924 and was held there in 1925. During the years 1926 through 1946 in years when the Miss California pageant was held, the competition was primarily in San Francisco and Venice, California. In 1947, it returned to Santa Cruz and was held there annually until 1985, after which it moved to San Diego in response to years of protests and a "Myth California" counterpageant organized by local feminist activists led by Ann Simonton and Nikki Craft. It has been held in Fresno, California since 1994.