This week kicks off the 75th Miss Indiana Pageant. 64 contestants met in the Indiana Golf Club Cardinal Room for the introduction ceremonies.
Executive Director Aren Straeger said she is ecstatic about this year’s pageant.
“We had such a great response from alumnae and there are so many coming back,” Straeger said. “We’ve added more local titles so this is our biggest class yet.”
There are 35 Miss Indiana contestants and 29 Miss Indiana Outstanding Teen this year.
Of that number, four contestants represent the central Indiana area: Miss Purdue University Ashley Zeiner of Fishers Miss Southern Heartland Outstanding Teen Shelby Kate Everitt of Carmel, Miss Banks of the Wabash Outstanding Teen Samantha Robbins of Zionsville and Miss Fall Festivals Outstanding Teen Gracen Stanczykiewicz of Zionsville.
A common theme throughout the event was the girls’ excitement to get to know one another.
“I’m excited to meet these amazing girls and make lifelong friendships,” Everitt said.
Over the course of the next week, 16 previous Miss Indiana titleholders will co-host the event with pageant host Brad Brown. This includes Miss America 2009/Miss Indiana 2008 Katie Stam who spoke to the girls about her experience in the Miss Indiana Pageant.
“I could whittle it down to one word: connection. Your job as a title-holder is to make a connection with others,” Stam said. “And what does that mean? That means you can relate to them. You can leave something with them. That when they walk away, they have a great feeling inside, that you made their heart smile.”
After each of the contestants introduced themselves and their platforms, hosts presented awards for fundraising and leadership. The Children’s Miracle Hospital Fundraising award was given to the top three fundraisers from each category and the Hoosier Leadership Memorial Scholarship was awarded to one contestant from each category. The Miss Outstanding Teen recipient received $250 and the Miss Indiana recipient received $500 for said scholarship.
At the ceremonies closing, co-host Brad Brown left contestants with some encouraging words.
“There can only be one Miss Indiana,” Brown said. “But right now it could be any one of you.”