Apologies if this isn't in the right place.

Hi all,

I am the president of a small romance writing group in Missouri, and over the past few years, we've noticed a dramatic decrease in participation in our annual contest. I believe there are several key reasons behind this, one of which being the draw of being read by an agent or editor is not as valuable as it once was. Granted, that's based on personal observations and not backed by data, so I could be wrong.

Despite our group being primarily romance-focused, we welcomed writers of all genres to participate allowing that the category theme remained the same (Contemporary/Paranormal/Science Fiction/Fantasy/Historical/YA/MG)

The contest worked like this: submit the first 2,500 words of an unpublished title. Each submission would be read by volunteers, then the finalists would be sent to agents and editors, who would award the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd entries. The group also issued a cash prize (not much; we're a tiny, resources-strapped group) and certificate of accomplishment. To enter the contest, the price was $25 for nonmembers, $20 for members per submission.
This used to be wildly popular, enough so that it funded an annual two-day conference we have since been forced to suspend due to lack of funds. The contest this year received 4 entries and was canceled.

So here are my questions:
Does this model still have
life?
Where would you market this sort of contest? We used Facebook ads in the past, but Facebook is not returning the results it once did
What inspires or would inspire you, as an author, to enter a smaller-scale writing contest?
If you're a member of a writing group that holds an annual contest, can you share what is working with their model?

Anything you can share will be helpful. Thank you in advance.