Pageant winners crowned at Van Meter Hall

MacKayla Phillips (Trigg County) waits as Taylor Flake (Taylorsville) shows off her gown in the evening gown portion of the Miss Kentucky United States pageant on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Van Meter.

Sally Wegert

Wearing a dress she referred to as “the love of her life,” Leah Seargant took the stage at Van Meter Hall Saturday evening to represent Eastern Kentucky in the Miss Kentucky United States Pageant Finals. Seargent, an 18-year-old broadcasting major from Daviess County, was in her second year competing in the pageant, and was hopeful for a new title.

Representatives from all over Kentucky came together at the Holiday Inn in Bowling Green on Friday for a “meet and greet” with one another before the competition preparations began early the following morning. The Miss Kentucky United States pageant took place over two days and involved swimsuit and evening wear competitions as well as interview portions for the contestants. Finalists were announced after the opening ceremony on Sunday, and the winners were crowned that evening.

Katy Moody Cusick, executive director at Miss Kentucky United States Organization, had been involved in the planning and preparation of the weekend’s events for nearly seven months since returning from the 2016 Miss United States pageant. It is her second year directing the pageant, and despite having “a few bullets to dodge backstage,” she said she was elated with the event’s success.

For Seargent, as well as other contestants, pageant preparation can start as early as a year before the event date. There were 53 contestants competing in various categories, 15 of which were in Seargant’s category of “Teen.” The age categories represented during the weekend were Little Miss, Pre-Teen, Jr. Teen, Teen, Miss and Mrs., and winners announced at the close of Sunday’s pageant will advance to the official Miss United States Pageant this summer in Orlando, Florida.

For Seargent, involvement in pageantry is what motivates her to live her best life.

“I use pageants as a motivation to do things that are better for me and better for other people,” Seargant said. “You work out and eat healthy and get spray tans and do community service.”

According to the organization’s website, the Miss United States Pageant process is intended to “empower all delegates to become active participants in her community while nurturing and promoting a cause meaningful to her.” 

Seargant’s community service platform is breast cancer awareness, which she chose as an homage to her mother who was diagnosed with breast cancer when Seargant was a child. Her work is targeted to raise money for individuals affected by the disease, often locals to her hometown.

“Pageants have overwhelmed my life, but it’s for the good, I guess,” Seargent said. “If I’m not on stage, then I’m doing something in the community or for another person. This is who I am now.”

Although Seargent did not earn a title in the weekend’s competition, she said she felt content with the results and will be happy to maintain her title as Miss Daviess County from the previous year.

“If the judges don’t like you for who you are, then you really shouldn’t win the title because that’s not what they are looking for at the moment,” Seargent said. “Being yourself is the most important thing in pageantry to me.”

Reporter Sally Wegert can be reached at (270)745-0655 and [email protected]