Miss Kentucky USA, Miss Kentucky Teen USA pageant to take place at WKU

Quiche Matchen

This weekend Miss Kentucky USA and Miss Kentucky Teen USA contestants will compete at Van Meter Hall on Jan. 19-20.

Contestants come from all across Kentucky for this pageant, with ages ranging from 14 to 26 years old.

Connie Harrison, executive state director of the Miss Kentucky USA and Miss Kentucky Teen pageant, said the pageant is operated by Miss Universe out of New York City. Miss Universe is owned by Donald Trump.

While the pageant has been held at WKU before, Harrison said they’ve been to different venues in Somerset and Louisville as well.

“Right now, this is our new home,” she said. “WKU is a beautiful campus, and having the pageant there will bring more awareness.”

The contestants in the pageant will compete in preliminary presentations such as swim suits and evening gowns on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Sunday will be finals and the crowning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 for Saturday and $40 for Sunday.

The winner of the Miss Kentucky USA will go on to the Miss USA pageant, televised on NBC, and the winner of Miss Kentucky Teen USA will go to the Miss Teen USA pageant.

Harrison said she decided to come to WKU’s campus for the pageant because of the renovated Van Meter and its convenient location.

“Van Meter has state of the art sound and lighting, plus it’s very accessible and the staff is very knowledgeable,” she said.

Harrison said this is her second year coming to WKU with the pageant. She has worked with event assistant Sara Thomas each time she’s come to WKU. Thomas said Harrison called because she was curious about the newly renovated Van Meter.

“She really liked the facility, and it all went well,” she said. “Now we’re back for another round.”

Thomas said she talked to Harrison for almost six months prior to the event to get everything together for the pageant.

“I handle the make-up staging room and getting dressing rooms set up,” Thomas said. “Setting up tables and chairs, and we will handle the front part of Van Meter.”

Thomas said this event will bring a lot of recognition on campus.

“It’s a good way to come look at WKU,” she said. “With the updated facility, it’s a great marketing tool.”

Thomas said last year’s event was great and she’s looking forward to this year’s as well.

Harrison said there will be a few changes to the event this year.

“There will be a Miss Kentucky USA derby fashion show,” she said. “We wanted to add this segment because Kentucky Derby is a very important event. What better way to show that than beautiful and intelligent girls to dress up for this important event?”

Harrison also said they will have their first contestant that is in a power wheel chair this year. She said this contestant will be treated fairly, just like the other contestants.

“I try to teach the girls that it isn’t about winning and losing — it’s about gaining self-esteem and giving back,” she said. “My main goal is to show all the girls that they’re all beautiful and have good qualities.”

Harrison said she tries to motivate contestants to leave a good impression and celebrate the women of Kentucky.

“I don’t like to call it a beauty pageant because it’s not just about beauty, but inner beauty,” she said.