Miss Arkansas Pageant under way

Forty-four of the state’s best and brightest young women begin competition this week for the title of Miss Arkansas 2017 and the chance to represent the Natural State at Miss America in Atlantic City this September.  

At the end of the week-long competition, one of these lucky ladies will have her life forever changed and walk away with a $30,000 scholarship, the largest in the pageant’s 80-year history, plus more than $75,000 in prizes.  

This year, contestants will receive more than $167,000 in scholarships, thanks to generous sponsors and the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation. Each contestant will receive a $400 scholarship just for competing this week.

To kick off pageant week, the Official Arrival Ceremony was held Saturday at the Arkansas State Capitol and was followed by a chance for family, friends and fans to meet the contestants at the traditional autograph session. Emcee for the Official Arrival Ceremonies was Miss Arkansas 2015, Loren McDaniel. She finished in the Top 15 at Miss America 2016.

For the first time in the pageant’s history, the Miss Arkansas Pageant is being held jointly with the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant. The 34 most talented and intelligent teens were a part of the Official Arrival Ceremony. These teens are competing for nearly $24,000 in scholarships and the chance to represent Arkansas in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in Orlando later this summer.

On hand to greet contestants were Miss Arkansas 2016 Savannah Skidmore and Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen 2016 Emily Brewer.

During the Arrival Ceremonies, the Miss Arkansas Marketplace Interview Scholarship Winners were announced. A separate panel of local professionals who excel in their chosen field interviewed applicants in May at the contestant meeting. These interviews were designed to be like a job interview and contestants were scored on their experience and potential in their chosen field. This is the first year these awards were given and were a fantastic opportunity for the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation to further promote their mission of empowering young women to achieve their academic and professional goal.  

The 2017 Marketplace Interview Scholarship Winners:

Miss Northeast Arkansas Bailey Moses received the 1,000 Journalism & Mass Communications Professions scholarship sponsored by KATV.  Moses is from Cabot and attends Arkansas State University.  She will graduate in the spring with a bachelor’s degree in strategic communications with a double emphasis in public relations and social media management. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in communication.

Miss Texarkana Twin Rivers Kathryn Barfield received the $2,500 Medical Field Professions scholarship sponsored by Dr. Allyson Moulton.

Miss White River Claudia Raffo received the $1,500 STEM Professions scholarship sponsored by Dr. Ashlen Thomason & Family.  

Miss Heart of the Ozarks Ashton Yarbrough received the $1,500 Education Professions scholarship in memory of Marty Walker by Chris Walker & Family.

Miss Southwest Arkansas Suzie Gresham received the $1,500 Business Professions scholarship sponsored by Stacy & Brad Hudgens.  

Miss Gateway to the Ozarks Jacey Winn received the $1,500 Law Professions scholarship (to be used for law school) sponsored by Friday, Eldredge & Clark Law Firm.  

Miss Apple Blossom Reagan Wheelis received the $1,000 Accounting Professions scholarship sponsored by Thomas & Thomas Accounting Firm.  

Miss Grand Prairie Taylor Jaggers received the $1,000 Fine Arts Professions scholarship sponsored by Susan & Lou Siegel.  

Also awarded at the Arrival Ceremonies were the Top Five Children’s Miracle Network Fundraisers for both the Miss and the Outstanding Teen contestants. Children’s Miracle Network is the official national platform for both the Miss America and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageants. The top fundraiser for Miss Arkansas will be named on Wednesday and will receive a $1,000 scholarship. The remaining four finalists will receive a $500 scholarship. These awards are courtesy of the Miss America Foundation. Collectively, the 44 Miss Arkansas contestants raised more than $34,000 this year.  

The 2017 Miss Arkansas CMN Miracle Maker Top Five Fundraisers are Miss Apple Blossom Reagan Wheelis, Miss Grand Prairie Taylor Jaggers, Miss Greater Little Rock Brooke Cornelius, Miss Northwest Arkansas Raygan Sylvester and Miss University of Arkansas Darynne Dahlem.  

On Friday, the Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Miracle Maker will be named.  She will receive a $200 scholarship courtesy of Justin Harper. Collectively the 2017 Outstanding Teen contestants raised almost $17,000. The 2017 Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen CMN Miracle Maker Top Five Fundraisers are Miss Apple Blossom’s Outstanding Teen Anna Claire Hay, Miss Diamond Lake’s Outstanding Teen Madeline Adams, Miss North Central Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Zoe Cimino, Miss Northwest Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Isabella Udouj and Miss Petit Jean Valley’ Outstanding Teen Claire Lambert of Conway.

The Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant also named the Top Five Finalists for the Teens in Action Award which recognizes a contestant who has excelled in bettering her community, promoting her platform and taking action to improve the lives of those around her. This winner will be announced on Friday and will receive a $200 scholarship courtesy of Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen 2016 Emily Brewer.

The 2017 Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen contestants.

The finalists are:

Miss Greater Little Rock’s Outstanding Teen Katelynn Tyner of Cabot. Her platform is “Promote the Vote.”

Miss Heart of the Ozark’s Outstanding Teen Sara Gardner of Russellville. Her platform is “Pledge to Patriotism.”  

Miss Lake Dardanelle’s Outstanding Teen Aubrey Reed of Russellville. Her platform is “STAR:  Empowering America’s Youth.”

Miss Northeast Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Izzy Baughn of Jonesboro. Her platform is “Eye on the Storm: Be Prepared and Ready.”

Miss Ouachita River’s Outstanding Teen Camille Cathey of Wynne. Her platform is “Proudly Volunteer.”

Lastly, the Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Top Five Finalists for Scholastic Achievement were also named at the Arrival Ceremonies. The winner will be named on Friday and will receive a $250 scholarship given by Ashton Campbell Gill, who was Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen 2011 and Miss Arkansas 2014.  

The finalists:

Miss Greater Jacksonville’s Outstanding Teen Payton Wortsmith. She is from Little Rock and attends Pulaski Academy.

Miss Heart of the Ozark’s Outstanding Teen Sara Gardner. She is from Fayetteville and attends Fayetteville High School.

Miss Natural State’s Outstanding Teen Brooke Bradford. She is from Shirley and attends Clinton High School.

Miss Northeast Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen Izzy Baughn. She is from Jonesboro and attends Jonesboro High School.

Miss River Delta’s Outstanding Teen Phoebe Harris. She is from Paragould and attends Green County Tech.

Preliminary competition begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 13, at Robinson Center in Little Rock. Additional preliminary competition will also be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Winners for Artistic Expression in Talent and Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit will be presented at the end of each night’s preliminary competition.

The culmination of a week’s worth of competition and activities will happen over two days. On Friday, June 16, the new Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen will be crowned. On Saturday, June 17, Miss Arkansas 2017 will be crowned.  

Tickets are still available for the 13th Miss Arkansas Outstanding Teen Pageant and the 80th Miss Arkansas Pageant and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or by calling Robinson Center.