In June 2009, the Miss Kansas Pageant will open in Pratt for the 54th time. During most of those years, contestants and their families descend on the town for a week and there is an occasional sighting of the titleholder during her year of service.


In June 2009, the Miss Kansas Pageant will open in Pratt for the 54th time. During most of those years, contestants and their families descend on the town for a week and there is an occasional sighting of the titleholder during her year of service.

Already this year, eight contestants have been crowned in two not-quite pageants at Pratt Community College and the young ladies have been out and about in the community, raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network and mentoring teens, tweens and children in a “Girl Talk” session. The 31 contestants for the Miss Kansas Pageant will be back in Pratt for an orientation session in early May.

A recent change in organizational structure allows Lisa Perez Miller more time to concentrate on training, education and development, putting less emphasis on the “glitz and glamour” of the pageant and more on building confident young women. Miller has stepped down as co-executive director, leaving what she calls the “day-to-day tasking” in the hands of Doug Brehm. She retains the title of president of Miss Kansas Pageant, Inc.

As she is able to give more time to training, the Reality Weekend, held March 21-22, could grow to two or three sessions for contestants, potential contestants and volunteers every year, Miller predicted. In spite of its name, the weekend is more about personal development and less about fun and games and physical challenges. In addition, a new format for preparing Miss Kansas to become Miss America is more time-consuming, but more effective, she explained.

While organizers would definitely like to see another Kansas woman crowned Miss America, the goal is always to target growth in life skills and communication, she said.

“We’ve seen real growth in Emily (Deaver, Miss Kansas 2008) and Alyssa (George, 2007). We’re confident the process works.”

Both Miller and Brehm, along with a growing leadership team, will find plenty to do as they prepare for a full week of activities June 1-6. Tickets are on sale now and, for the first time, can be purchased online at www.misskansas.org.

The Miss Outstanding Teen Pageant, introduced in Pratt in 2004, and held in Wichita the last couple of years, returns to Pratt and Pageant Week. A different time frame and a different venue didn’t seem to increase participation, Miller said.

The teens will have two afternoon preliminary competitions on June 1 and 2 and finals the evening of June 2. They will be integrated somewhat into the “Miss” production, but combining the two competitions proved unpopular in an earlier year. Applications from young women age 13 to 17 are still being accepted.

With 31 contestants, the Miss Kansas Pageant expands to three preliminaries, on June 3, 4 and 5. The final competition is Saturday, June 6. The jump from around 20 contestants in recent years is partially the result of two multi-title events in Pratt and one in Wichita that include all the categories of a Miss Kansas Local, but without the production numbers, as well as the inclusion of fair, festival and university titleholders who meet Miss Kansas criteria.

Community involvement will be back for 2009, with the popular Dancing With the Contestants show on Monday night of Pageant Week and some type of park event will be held as well, Miller said.

Activities for Sunflower Princesses have expanded, with a basic package that includes a mentoring session with contestants and participation in an evening production number supplemented with several smaller group sessions on topics such as manners and etiquette, fashion, talent and cookie-decorating. The application deadline for 5- to 12-year-old girls is May 1.