With elegant dresses and dazzling jewelry, teens and young adults from all across the state are converging on downtown Mexico, Missouri, to compete for the Miss Missouri crown.
Three women from the area are competing for the title: Katie Farr, of Jefferson City, and Eldon natives Christina Beard and Holly Enowski.
Miss Missouri candidates will kick off pageant week Sunday at the Missouri Military Academy. The preliminary competition will start Tuesday and finish June 17. The new Miss Missouri will be crowned June 18. There will be a meet and greet June 18 ahead of the crowning ceremony for area residents to meet with the candidates and take photos on the courthouse lawn.
During the week, candidates will go through interviews, red carpets and performances. The competition will conclude with participants giving statements on their social impact initiatives.
Miss Southern Missouri Katie Farr is a sophomore at Missouri State University in Springfield, where she studies communications. For her performance, Farr will sing "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" for the audience and judges. To close Farr's portion of the preliminary competition, she will give a statement on her social impact initiative, "Altogether Beautiful."
An eating disorder awareness initiative, "Altogether Beautiful" focuses on spreading awareness through education, fundraising and sharing Farr's own experiences. After speaking to freshman girls about her experience with an eating disorder as a senior in high school, Farr realized how much her conversation impacted young girls and teens. "I knew this was something I needed to advocate for and spread awareness about," she said.
Farr is most excited to connect with the other women competing for Miss Missouri and those who have supported her through her journey. "It really shows how much this organization cares about empowering women," she said. "It's been such an amazing experience to be uplifted, and I can't wait for the week of empowerment and meeting with all these amazing, accomplished women."
Miss Table Rock Lake Christina Beard graduated from Drury University in Springfield, earning a degree in music and a minor in communications. She will play the fiddle for her performance in front of the audience and judges and will give a statement on her social impact initiative, "See the Able, Not the Label."
Inspired by her brother, Beard's initiative aims to cultivate autism-friendly communities, schools and businesses across Missouri. "As Miss Missouri, I'd be providing that curriculum to help embed that culture of understanding while also bridging the gap of communication between those who are not neurodiverse but also who are autistic or neurodiverse," she said.
For the performance portion of the competition, Beard is looking forward to playing "The Devil Went Down to Georgia/Orange Blossom Special Medley" on the fiddle.
"Being able to have the opportunity and chance to perform on the Miss Missouri stage is very exciting," she said.
Miss North Kansas City Holly Enowski is a graduate student studying business administration at Washington University. For the talent portion of the competition, she will play the marimba for the judges and audience, and she will end her portion of the contest by giving a statement on her social impact initiative, "Hungry For Change."
Ever since she saw one of her friends being bullied on the school bus in middle school for receiving a weekend meal pack, Enowski has been determined to reduce food insecurity in Mid-Missouri.
"I work to make people angry about the fact that hunger still exists," she said. "Then to equip them with tools and resources to make an actual impact."
Enowski is looking forward to being on stage again and showing girls in Mid-Missouri that participating in a competition like this one is attainable. "I want other girls in central Missouri to be able to see themselves in this position," she said. "To be able to be someone who is a positive role model in a society where there are not as many positive role models as there should be."
As one of the largest donors of scholarships to young women in Missouri, the Miss Missouri Scholarship Organization is going to award more than $85,000 in scholarships between the Miss Missouri and Outstanding Teen programs.
Tickets for the Miss Missouri pageant are available through the Mexico Area Chamber of Commerce or by calling 573-581-2765.