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2017 Miss Barton County and Miss Golden Belt pageant features nine
Scholarship pageant spotlights talent, personality, and more
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Participants in the 2017 Miss Barton County and Miss Golden Belt Scholarship Pageant which was held Saturday night at the Great Bend High School Auditorium included four area women, and five from around the state. Miss Barton County candidates were: (left to right) Makayla Lofland, Maddy Hayden, Sydney Boxberger and Viktoria Donetz. - photo by Veronica Coons, Tribune staff

Saturday night marked the fifth in an annual tradition that is bringing back an appreciation for talent, fitness and style of young women in the Golden Belt area. The 2017 Miss Barton County and Miss Golden Belt Scholarship Pageant was held at the Great Bend High School auditorium, and features four contestants for Miss Barton county, and five for Miss Golden Belt.
After a hiatus of several year’s, the pageant was revived in 2013 by Kristy Straub and Tina Mingenback. Since then, it has sent eight crown-wearers to the Miss Kansas pageant.
Kristy Straub and Candice Lawellin, co-directors of the pageant, were on hand Saturday morning as the participants participated in the interview part of the contest, and later rehearsed group numbers and each phase of the contest. Participants must be between the ages of 17 and 24, and must at least be a senior in high school, Straub said.
Miss Barton County is open only to women who reside in Barton County. Those participants were Viktoria Donetz of Hoisington, Sydney Boxberger of Hoisington, Maddy Hayden of Great Bend and Makayla Lofland of Great Bend. Each are students at their respective high schools.
The Miss Golden Belt title is open to women from all over the state. Participants were Jerika Mitchell of Ellsworth, a student at Fort hays State University;Shae Amerin of Johnson, a student at Stanton County High School, Christina Million of Dodge City, a student at Dodge City Community College; Callie Lane of De Soto, a student at the University of Missouri at Kansas City and Emily Rugg of Hazelton, a student at South Barber high School.
The six-person panel of judges included many familiar faces from among Great Bend’s community-minded supporters. They were Megan Hammeke, Rita Krause, Bev Schmeidler, Charlie Suchy, Cody Schmidt and Jewel Davis. Announcers were Scott Donovan and Mark Mingenback. Emily Goad and Shelli Schmidt acted as auditors for the event.
A favorite feature of the pageant is the contributions from the 2017 Sunflower Princesses. They included Baze Hogan, Alexandria Omenski, Abygail Arnold, Trinity Eldridge, and Hayden Lindon, all of Great Bend, as well as Jade Holman of Otis and Madison Henning of Claflin.
Other Golden Belt royalty featured at the event included 2016 Miss Barton County Hannah Mauler of Great Bend and 2016 Miss Golden Belt Sara Gustin of Hays. Each have worked hard over the past year to promote their platform causes. For Mauler, a student at Kansas State University, majoring in both Kinesiology Gerontology, that platform is “How Fit is your life?” She has worked to encourage others to strive for the healthiest lifestyle possible.
Gustin, a freshman at Kansas State University, has changed her major from Musical Theater to that of Agricultural Economics Pre-Law, her platform issue is “Being in the know.”
The women participated in four events; an interview, a swimsuit competition, an evening wear competition, and a talent exhibition. The qualities judges looked for in the winners included pleasant personality and speaking ability, fitness, poise and confidence, and personality. Each part was weighted differently, Straub said.
Both winners will receive a $1,000 scholarship, and will go on to compete in the Miss Kansas competition at Pratt in June. Winners were not decided before press time, but will be featured in the Tuesday edition of the Great Bend Tribune.