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Maddy wins Miss Barton County, Blankenship takes Golden Belt crown
new vlc pageant story pic 2
Fifteen Sunflower Princesses performed a dance number at the beginning of Saturday nights pageant. They included Gentry Schremmer, Reese Watkins, Abygail Haines, Jade Holman, Analeah Ochs, Makayla Hazen, Tierstyn Kershner, Mikala Minton, Taigen Huff, Kate Welcher, Alexandria Omenski, JaLaysia Aldrich, Cara Murphy, Cailyn Murphy, and Tricia Schremmer. - photo by VERONICA COONS Great Bend Tribune

Hannah Maddy, Ellinwood, and Courtney Blankenship, Pratt, achieved royalty status Saturday night at the Miss Barton County and Miss Golden Belt Scholarship Pageant.  
The scholarship contest was held Saturday night at the Great Bend High School Auditorium.  This was the third year of the program in Barton County. Great Bend High School student Sarah Keller opened the pageant, singing the National Anthem, and the announcement that long time Miss Kansas supporter Deanna Stambaugh, Belle Plain, had passed away earlier that day.
Eight contestants vied for the crown, as well as two scholarships worth $1,000 each courtesy of Waters True Value, Great Bend.  Chantell McReynolds, Great Bend, Kaitlynn Tuey, Great Bend, Shelby Letourneau, Claflin, and Hannah Maddy, Ellinwood competed for Miss Barton County.  Savannah Carpenter, Ulysses, Courtney Blankenship, Pratt, Christina Clark, Dodge City, and Sarah Leatherman, Russell competed for Miss Golden Belt.   Kristy Straub and Candice Moeder, directors of the pageant, will work with the winners as they prepare for the Miss Kansas pageant that will be held in Pratt June 6.
Dance instructor Laura Klima, owner of Danceography in Great Bend, worked with the girls for their opening number.  
Miss Barton County 2014, Bonnie Boultinghouse, and Miss Golden Belt 2014, Michelle Page  were on hand to perform a tap dance together and to talk about their prior year’s service.  Boultinghouse spoke about  her work advocating for Alzheimer’s awareness, while Page, who advocated for domestic violence awareness, encouraged the 2015 winners to really enjoy their year.  It goes by so fast, she said.
Fifteen younger girls performed as the 2015 Sunflower Princesses.  Both Boultinghouse and Page performed on stage with the girls.  Each received a tiara and a carnation from the outgoing royalty following the performance.  
They included Gentry Schremmer, Reese Watkins, Abygail Haines, Jade Holman, Analeah Ochs, Makayla Hazen, Tierstyn Kershner, Mikala Minton, Taigen Huff, Kate Welcher, Alexandria Omenski, Ja’Laysia Aldrich, Cara Murphy, Cailyn Murphy, and Tricia Schremmer.
The lifestyle, or swimwear, competition came first.  Judges awarded points for drive, confidence, and physical fitness, all indicators of a healthy lifestyle.  Sarah Leatherman of Russell stood out as the only contestant that wore a one-piece suit.
The talent competition featured McReynolds performing a vocal performance of a show tune, “Poor Wandering One,” exhibiting her range that included some impressive high notes. Tuey performed a song and dance number, “Summer,” and Letourneau performed a modern dance to the song, “Beautiful People.”  This was followed by Maddy’s vocal performance of “Bring Him Home.”  Carpenter performed the cup song from the movie, “Pitch Perfect,” which included vocals and the cup and clap percussion.  Blankenship sang an opera selection, impressing the judges with not only her Italian, but her range.  Clark performed a contortionist act which included several yoga poses. Leatherman gave a vocal performance of the song “Break Away.”
During the intermission, audience members had the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice award by donating a dollar per vote for the contestants.  The proceeds went to Children’s Miracle Network.  
The elegant evening wear contest featured each contestant modeling floor length gowns and answering questions drawn at random by announcer Scott Donovan.  McReynolds, asked her opinion of tattoos on contestants, replied it was a matter of personal choice.  Tuey said young people should refrain from use  of cell phones and social media during family time.  Letourneu, if given the chance to create a non-profit service organization would work to end drinking and driving.   Maddy adamantly stated bullying should not be videotaped, nor videos of bullying be watched as it only encourages the practice.   Carpenter felt involvement in activities is the most important thing teens can do to have a successful high school career.   Blankenship picked Abraham Lincoln as her choice to talk to a person from the past because he was an inspirational leader.  Clark recommended limiting posts and adjusting privacy settings as ways to stay safe online.    Leatherman said others would say her “wow” factor is her caring and thoughtfulness of others.   
Each contestant met with judges and took part in the interview portion of the contest earlier in the afternoon.
While judges tabulated scores, a grand piano was wheeled onto the stage for a performance by 2013 Miss Barton County winner Taylor Frey.  Frey wowed judges and the audience in 2013 with expertise on the piano.  Saturday night, she played the familiar theme song from the Disney movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean.”  Then, videos highlighted the past year’s journey of each of the outgoing royalty.   
Boultinghouse and Page returned to the stage to crown the incoming royalty.  The Miss Golden Belt title went to Courtney Blankenship, and first runner up to Sarah Leatherman.  The Miss Barton County title was awarded to Hannah Maddy, and first runner up to Chantell McReynolds.  McReynolds also won the People’s Choice award which included a gift from Beautiful Beginnings Boutique.  
 Judges were Vicki Berryman, a Great Bend City Council member; Cole Reif, sports director for Eagle Radio;  Keri Schremmer, a Hoisington business person; Matt Bristow, an Ellinwood criminal defense lawyer;  Jane Goodheart, a Great Bend business person and a former Miss Kansas;  and Dr. Mike Allison, Great Bend’s mayor.  Emily Goad and Shelli Schmidt, both Great Bend High School graduates, were auditors.
Other Barton County businesses that lent support to the pageant included Great Bend Floral and Gifts, Straub International, the Great Bend Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development, Eagle Radio, Portraits by Shane, OPI, Barton Community College, Papa Murphy’s, Flavored Celebrations and Brown Isern and Carpenter.