Junior Miss marks 50 years at Triton

BOURBON — Fifty years is a long time, whether in marriage or in a job. It is especially rewarding in the case of the Triton Junior Miss Pageant, which has continued its long-standing tradition with its 50th show last Saturday night.
While the state organization has changed its name to the Distinguished Young Woman Pageant, Triton has elected to remain “Junior Miss” because that is what the Triton community is used to.
The annual show is a scholarship program, not a beauty pageant. Although contestants appear in gowns and walk down a runway, the judges’ points are given for scholarship, talent, poise and self-expression and fitness. The program is open to all senior girls at Triton Jr./Sr. High School.
The eight contestants this year reflect the usual eight to 10 applicants who choose to devote time to the program. The most participants there have ever been were 17 in 1999 and one other year. The event is time consuming and challenging, although participants all say it is well worth the effort.
The preparation time involves meeting twice a week for two hours starting in August and ending the week of the pageant in October. The girls learn their group fitness routine, practice their self-expression with volunteers who represent the judges, and learn the opening number and the finale. During this time they also get to know each other and enjoy a sleepover at the home of one of the leaders. They are also advised on their individual talent contribution.
This year’s Junior Miss is Taylor Hatfield, who plans to be a dentist/orthodontist, and receives the grand prize of a $1,000 scholarship. She also won the preliminary awards for Fitness, Scholastic Achievement, and Self-Expression, each of which carries a $200 scholarship, making her total scholarship award $1,600.
The first runner-up is Kayleigh Craig (a $500 scholarship), who also won the preliminary award for Talent (a $200 scholarship), making her total award $700. Second runner-up is Holly Stogsdill (a $400 scholarship), and third runner-up is Mikayla Harker (a $300 scholarship), also receiving a $50 gift certificate for the most ticket sales.
Other preliminary award winners are Nichaela Rock who won the Poster Contest and Michal Scherer-Berry, a $100 scholarship for the Spirit of Junior Miss, which is voted on by the girls themselves. Any contestant who does not receive a finalist or preliminary award also receives a $100 scholarship.
The event, which has developed a large community following over the years, is planned and presented by about 70 volunteers, including officers Tammy Sauer — president, Kristen Younis — vice president, Lindsey McIntyre — treasurer, Whitney Ambrose — secretary, and other Board members Teresa Barnhart, Kevin Boyer, Marcile Lindsey, Reed Monesmith, and Orion Lemler.
Judges for this year’s pageant were all former Junior Miss winners: Hannah Bryant — 2005, Glenda King — 1971, Sheila Martin — 1994, Brooke Miller — 2008, and Pam Carlberg — 1978 and Miss Indiana 1981.
Support and scholarship funds are provided by many local businesses and individuals who recognize the value of the experience for young women. This particular golden anniversary included special entertainment by last year’s Junior Miss Breanna Lemler and the 2014 Elkhart Distinguished Young Woman Christine Medine, who performed a ballroom dance routine.
Ambrose emphasized: “It’s a fantastic scholarship program which will continue on and on. It’s a great opportunity for senior girls to earn scholarship money and have fun doing it,” she concluded.
The audience seemed to enjoy Saturday’s special celebration as the 2014 Junior Miss was chosen.