UCA students among winners at Miss Arkansas Pageant

Miss Central Arkansas Caitlyn Cook won the Preliminary Artistic Expression in Talent award and Miss University of Central Arkansas Ashton Purtle won the Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit Preliminary Award on Thursday during the second night of preliminary competition at the 79th Annual Miss Arkansas Pageant at Bank of the Ozarks Arena in Hot Springs.

For winning Talent, Cook received a $1,400 scholarship and Purtle received a $1,000 scholarship for winning Swimsuit. Both scholarships were provided by Rebecca McDowell.

Cook is the 23-year old daughter of Dr. Joseph and Mary Cook of Conway. She is a senior at the University of Central Arkansas. For her talent selection, she performed a vocal to “And This Is My Beloved.”

Purtle is the 20-year old daughter of Steve and Michele Purtle of Russellville. She is a junior at the University of Central Arkansas.

Emcees for this year’s pageant are KATV’s Chris Kane and Miss Arkansas 2009 Sarah Slocum Collins. Miss Arkansas 2015 Loren McDaniel, a 2015 graduate of the University of Arkansas, was on hand Thursday night to entertain and present these awards.

For the 9th year, Alpha Awards were presented for each phase of competition. These are presented to first-time Miss Arkansas contestants that garnered the most points in their respective groups each night.

Alpha Award winners Friday night were:

Miss Heart of the Ozarks Savvy Shields (Artistic Expression in Talent)

Miss UCA Ashton Purtle (Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit)

Miss Spirit of Arkansas Kenzie Williams (Interview from Group C)

Alpha Winners will each receive a $250 scholarship from the Miss Arkansas Executive Director’s Association.

Shields is the 21-year old daughter of Todd and Karen Shields of Fayetteville.  She is a senior at the University of Arkansas. For her talent selection, she performed a jazz dance to “Just Keep Moving the Line” from the television show Smash.

Williams is the 18-year old daughter of Jacqueline Williams and Gary Maroun of Benton. Her platform is “I Am That Girl,” and she is a freshman at Arkansas State University.

Also recognized tonight were the following:

  • Renee Fronabarger Arrival Award.  This was chosen by a separate panel of judges at the Official Arrival Ceremonies on Sunday. She will receive a $500 scholarship courtesy of Stacey Utley. The winner is Miss Ouachita River Samantha Hudon.  Hudon is the 24-year old daughter of Jon and Chris Hudon of Hot Springs. She is a graduate of the University of Central Arkansas.
  • For the fourth year a special community service award was given: the Service Before Self award. It will be awarded each night with a scholarship in the amount of $250.  It honors a Hot Springs Civic Organization that has been instrumental in our pageant’s success.  Our organization honored was the Oaklawn Rotary Club.  Tonight’s winner was chosen from the Group C Contestants and is Miss Arkansas State University Bailey Moses.  She is the 21-year old daughter of Jeff and Marsha Moses of Cabot She is a senior at Arkansas State University and promotes “Suitcases for Kids,” Advocacy for Foster Care Children as her personal platform.  
  • Combs “Caught Ya – Act of Kindness” Award.  This award recognizes one of our contestants for performing a random act of kindness during the week.  She will receive a $250 scholarship courtesy of Brittany and Clay Combs. The winner is Miss Greater Jacksonville Kelli Collins.  She is the 19-year old daughter of Jackie and Debbie Collins of Dardanelle.  She is a sophomore at the University of Central Arkansas.
  • Marty Walker Memorial Award.  This award recognizes a contestant who displays promptness and attention to detail. She will receive a $750 scholarship courtesy of Terry Wallace and the family of Marty Walker. Thursday’s winner is Miss Central Arkansas Caitlyn Cook.  

This year’s Miss Arkansas Pageant celebrates the 79th Year of the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant.  This year’s show features 42 contestants from around the state. They are competing for $121,800 in scholarship funds.

Competition continues with the final night of preliminaries at 7 p.m. Friday. Final competition is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday and includes the naming of the Top 10 semi-finalists.

Reigning Miss Arkansas, and Top 15 Miss America Semi-Finalist, Loren McDaniel, will be on hand to crown the new Miss Arkansas.

For ticket information please visit ticketmaster.com or the Bank of the Ozarks Arena box office.