First there were 33, then 11, then 5 and, finally, a winner - Miss Heart of the Midwest, Krystian Fish is crowned the new 2017 Miss Kansas.
Krystian Fish, 20, Miss Heart of the Midwest, hometown Wichita, won the 2017 Miss Kansas Pageant on Saturday evening in Pratt with combined scores from interview, lifestyle and fitness, talent and evening wear competitions. On receiving the crown her initial shock went from “This isn't happening!” to “I just want to thank God, He is the reason I am here.”
Wearing a white, high-neck, sleeveless sheath dress, that feature a back, waist-down center ruffle and bodice embellished with sparkle from her evening gown competition, Fish was an emotional winner who took the crown, passed from 2016 Miss Kansas Kendall Schoenekase, with grace and excitement. She embarks on a year of public appearances and the opportunity to press forward with her platform, Be Unstoppable: Disability, Not Definition, as she works towards representing the state at the annual Miss American Pageant in three months.
The 2017 Miss Kansas finals took place in a packed arena at Pratt Community College and featured talent numbers from vocals like “House of the Rising Sun” (Alexandria Black – Miss Johnson County) to “All That Jazz” (Sarah Gustin – Miss Dodge City) to an Indian Bollywood dance (Greeshma Reddy – Miss Wichita Asian Festival) and a rousing piano performance of “Pirates of the Caribean” (Cari Anne Cashon (Miss Augusta). Fish sang a dramatic vocal “They Just Keep Moving the Line,” starting softly and building to big crowd-pleasing notes at the end.
The field of 30 Miss Kansas contestants was narrowed to a group of 11 at the beginning of the Saturday show, based on judges' evaluations from preliminary competitions held earlier in the week. People's Choice winner Greesham Reddy, hometown Wichita, was the first named to the finals. The top ten finishers were: Cashon – Miss Augusta, Jade Dowling – Miss Metro KC, Gustin – Miss Dodge City, Maci Johnson – Miss Heart of Kansas, Kayla Hawkins – Miss Butler County, Cassie Lohmeyer – Miss Cowley County, Black – Miss Johnson County, Annika Wooton – Miss Kingman County, Fish – Miss Heart of the Midwest and Catie LeNeve – Miss Ruby Slippers.
The five finalists named during the entertainment studded evening which included a beautiful rendition of “Walking in Memphis” by pageant producer Doris Hayes-Clark, Miss Washington 1980, and special appearances by former Miss Kansas winners who went on to become Miss America: Tara Dawn Holland Christensen (1967) and Debra Barnes Snodgrass (1968) were: Lohmeyer, Fish, Johnson, Black, and Wooton.
Judges questions for the five finalists accounted for 20 percent of their score and were selected via drawing from the proverbial fish bowl.
Lohmeyer, the first draw, answered the question: What would you do to empower the status of women in this country, with, “I am doing that right now. Standing on this stage with this organization, Miss American empowers not only women but every single person who comes in contact with our out-reach programs and opportunities.”
Fish was asked how important a college education is for success in this day and age. She responded: “I believe a college education is very important. I am studying psychology and will get the background and experience in classrooms and clinicals that will advance me towards my goals in very important ways.”
Johnson, asked what event in history would she like to go back and change, answered with: “C. J. Walker was a very important African American who questioned where can the African American woman go to create change and find success.”
Black had to answer the question of 'Is the future brighter for your generation that is was for your parents?' She said, “Absolutely! I am proud to be a millenial because our generation is noticing the evidence of the footprint we are leaving and we are doing something about it.”
The final question for Wooton was, “Do political figures need to live their lives above reproach?” She said political figures need to be the role models that the women on the stage as Miss Kansas contestants strive to be, and she wouldn't be surprise if some of her counterparts went on to become very good politicians someday. “Politicians need to have honesty, transparency and morals to be the best for our country that they can be to lead us forward,” she said.
The finalists, announced after a farewell performance of “Desparado” by 2016 Miss Kansas Kendall Schoenekase, were:
4th runner up – Alexandria Black
3rd runner up – Maci Johnson
2nd runner up – Cassie Lohmeyer
1st runner up – Annika Wooton
and 2017 Miss Kansas – Krystian Fish.