The annual Miss Kane County Scholarship Pageant congregated with an enthusiastic audience of family and friends of contestants in the Kanab High School Theater on Saturday afternoon, July 17. All to witness a ‘changing-of-the-guard’ through the installation of new Queen and Princess candidates for Kane County Royalty. Current Queen Alyssa Stewart and Princess Kimber Reeve will be moving on.

“This year’s been a little different year,” began Jacey Heaton, who alongside her husband Josh, are designated directors of the ceremonies. “I think it’s just a post-Covid type year or something. We’ve had girls who’ve started to do the pageant, and things will come up. We’ve had a lot of girls drop out, and some join last-minute. And so, it’s been a crazy kind of year!

“We only have one princess and three queens, which is insane! I’ve never seen a year this sparse. I think now because all the girls can do everything, some have camps or are working, saying, ‘Oh, we’re just too busy.’ Last year, they weren’t busy enough, so I had lots. But the girls we have this year, they’re just so great! Just quality, awesome young women.

“They’ve worked hard,” Heaton continued. “They’ve done all the same things, like getting sponsors from the community. So, this year, we’re giving away about $3,000 in scholarships, which is pretty good. They have workshops they attend. We have dress rehearsals. They have to get their ‘talent’ ready, practicing interviews, all those things. They have a ‘platform’ that they choose. It’s something that they want to get involved with in the community. Something that they want to help our county to become better … that they think should be brought to light.

“Kaylee Brinkerhoff is our only Princess; but, because she’s stuck it out and gone through all the work, she’s still here performing tonight. So, she’s going to be crowned our Princess, and so we’ll see who’ll be the Queens.” 

In alphabetical order, Iris Lofing, Kanab, Hazel Harris, Orderville, and Nabbie Willis, Kanab, were in the running. 

The ceremonies commenced with an entire ensemble production number choreographed by Shellie Stewart, followed by the on-stage interview phase. Then the introduction of judges Mari Hobson (Miss Iron County 1998, Cedar City mother of six and founder of the non-profit “Fight Like a Girl” supporting families with members with life-threatening illness); Marci Mann (retiree from Alabama’s Gulf Shores Police Department, a last March arrival working as a massage therapist for Cedar City Chiropractic); and Dr. Catherine Webb, Ed. D. (Professor of Education at Concordia University Irvine, mother of six, ages eight - 26, living on a five-acre southern Utah farm managing a menagerie of 20 rescue animals). 

Next was the Princess Talents, prior to the Queen Talents division, which was followed by a passionately expressive Broadway-style dance by Cari Nelson during the first judges’ conference time-out.

Then, on to the Evening Wear category, and another out-of-competition Talent Presentation, this time by Bella Barrick. Her exquisitely eloquent ballet was a delightful complement to the proceedings. Both she and Cari would’ve been formidable additions in-competition!

The talent presentation of Miss Kane County Princess and Queen featured Princess Kimber’s emotionally powerful sign-language to Contemporary Christian music singer Lauren Daigle’s triumphant, “Say You,” before Queen Alyssa’s own heart-felt expressive singing.

Then came their farewell Royalty Final Walk to the appreciative applause of the gathering.

The climactic crowning of the 2021 royalty witnessed shoe-in Princess Kaylee Brinkerhoff’s selection, along with her “Community Involvement Award” plaque and a bouquet of red roses. The award garnered her a prize of $800 to accompany a scholarship of $400. Her platform is suicide prevention. It’s a subject near and dear to her since the passing of a recent classmate, and two uncles. The Valley High School freshman is a member of the Hope Squad there.

Of her experience, she concludes, “If you want to join the pageant, do it! It’s fun, and you have so much time in it. It’s just so fun, and all the girls are so nice. It may be a little stressful, but it’s all good in the end.”

In the Grand-Finale, Kanab High junior Iris Lofing was chosen Second Attendant Queen, Valley junior Hazel Harris as First Attendant Queen and Nabbie Willis won the honor of serving as Miss Kane County Queen, a designation including an $800 scholarship award.

“I feel amazing,” Willis exclaims. “You know, a week ago, I wasn’t even gonna do the pageant. But the former Queen, Alyssa Stewart, said ‘you know Nabbie, you should just do it. I think you would do amazing; I’ll help you.’ So I thought, ‘what the heck?’ So, I did it! And I’m glad I won!”

The soon-to-be Dixie State University (for now so-titled) freshman plans on studying sports medicine and pre-op physical therapy. Her platform is aimed at the scourge of drug abuse. She states, “My goal is to teach youth about the dangers of drug use and how it affects us.”

She notes, “Nabbie is a family name. I was named after my grandma and hers as well. It means ‘butterfly’ in Japanese and is a nickname for girls who are named Abigale.” To have seen her Queen Talents dance would convince anyone of such an apt appellation!