The new 2019 Miss Kansas tried seven times to win the crown and dedicated herself to learn from each experience.
Sometimes, dreams take a long time to come true. For Annika Wooton, her seven year dream came true when she was named Miss Kansas 2019 at the Miss Kansas competition in Pratt on June 8.
Wooton, who competed at Miss Wichita, had come close to the title before placing Third Runner-up in 2018 and First Runner-up in 2017.
As she stood on the stage with Miss Johnson County Madison Schoenekase waiting to find out which would be the new Miss Kansas, they said they were proud of each other and no matter what happened, they both knew they would be OK with the outcome. Wooton said it was important to be confident that her work over the last year would pay off.
When her name was called, she said she was freaking out and it really didn’t soak in that she had won until she watched the video.
For seven years, she has worked towards this goal. She compared it not getting a promotion at work. When that happens, an employee needs to work hard and improve their skills and that is exactly what she did. She thought she was the best for each competition but she figured out how she could improve. Wooton had received a plaque that said “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have” and that helped her continue to grow.
“I learned there was more for me to give. I could expand my talents and skills,” Wooton said.
It takes money to compete for Miss Kansas and Wooton has been doing it for seven years. She has six jobs in college and competing became her sport, her hobby. Whether it was advocating for the Arts in Washington D.C. or sharing her love for art with students, she spent her money investing in her self and her community. She is very secure with her efforts and proud of the work she has done.
Through her journey, her biggest supporter, other than her family, has been her coach Juven Nava. She has worked with him for three years. He has pushed her harder than she could push herself and it has been very transformative for her.
“Other than my family, he’s my rock. He made me the person I am today,” Wooton said.
Wooton has been at every placement in Miss Kansas competitions from just being in the pageant to the top five to Miss Kansas. It has given her a unique perspective. If a candidate doesn’t reach their goal in the competition, there is still work they can do.
“It’s more than the crown. You don’t have to have the crown to be impactful in the community,” Wooton said.
Wooton’s Social Impact Statement (platform) is The Artist’s Fingerprint: The Transformative Power of the Arts.
She said she had been an artist since she could hold a crayon. At college, she learned that being an artist was not the norm. As an art education major, she learned how the arts can impact a community by bringing in more tourism. It also helps define each person as an individual.
“Arts are the only thing that makes us more like ourselves rather than everyone else,” Wooton said. "The arts allows people to express themselves and connect with the community. It’s a life-long engagement."
The arts are in every aspect of life. Everything people interact with has been impacted, Wooton said.
“Arts is the heartbeat of our country. It brings passion, love and creativity,” Wooton said.
As she begins this new journey, she is the first Miss Kansas in the Miss Kansas 2.0 era that is reaching in a new direction as they prepare “Great women for the world and the world for great women.”
Wooton has put together a program Art Works and created a Kansas Youth Arts Seminar. Real artists were brought in to share their experiences and how they make a living. She wants to use her time as Miss Kansas to expand that program and highlight arts opportunities in Kansas.
While Wooton sang for her talent, she is also an accomplished painter. She used painting as her talent when she started competing. Technically, a painting of hers was in the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. There is a theater in the basement and they were doing a live production about a man who buys an abstract painting that is just all white. Wooton provided the painting for that production. It had color undertones with a layer of white paint on top. So, while it wasn’t on display for the public, technically, she had a painting in the museum, Wooton said.