By Joanna Henry Special at Signal
The Miss Southern Kansas pageant is back in Greensburg after an 18-year hiatus. The 2022 event was held at the Twilight Theater and Community auditorium on January 22, with three titles up for grabs: Miss Southern Plains 2022, Miss Southern Kansas 2022, and Miss Kiowa County 2022. After talent, interview, and outfit contests of evening, respective title winners were Ayanna Hensley as Miss Kiowa County, Emily Rugg as Miss Southern Kansas and Kaycee Krell as Miss Southern Plains. This competition is an essential preliminary to the Miss Kansas and Miss America competitions which will take place later this year.
Former executive director Jean McKinney of Greensburg gave some insight into how she got on the pageant circuit. She began volunteering for the Miss Southern Kansas pageant in the late 1980s. McKinney served as a traveling companion for several years; then as Executive Director until 2005. The Miss Southern Kansas pageant did not have a pageant as of 2005. In 2011, Jean was one of the judges for the Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen pageant. Then three years later, McKinney was asked to host the same pageant. She has done so every year since and is now also a hostess of the Miss Kansas pageant. She will fill both roles this year, as the competitions take place at different times of the year.
“I’ve seen girls grow and thrive through this program,” McKinney said. “I know it’s not for everyone, but those who participate get such a valuable experience.”
One such young lady who is part of this valuable experience is Miss Emily Rugg, who has been an active contestant for many years.
Although she currently lives in Wichita, Rugg is originally from Greensburg. She won the title of Miss Southern Kansas in 2022 and said she was looking forward to representing the southern part of the state in the Miss Kansas 2022 pageant in June.
“I really wouldn’t be the woman I am today without this organization,” Rugg said. “I gained lifelong friends, learned skills that helped me excel in my career, and got involved in community involvement that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do. .”
Rugg has been competing since he was 10 and will be 23 in May. She said her favorite part of the competition is the talent part because that’s where she thinks her personality shines. Rugg received special recognition for his on-stage interview and is a recipient of the Brittney Turkey Award.
“Any girl who is considering competing, go for it,” she said. “I received $1,000 scholarships and took my professional skills to the next level. I really can’t say enough wonderful things about this organization, and I’m so excited to have Miss Southern Kansas back in our area.
Additionally, on January 22 in Greensburg, Kaycee Krell won the title of Miss Southern Plains and Ayanna Hensley was crowned Miss Kiowa County.
All of these titleholders will compete in the Miss Kansas Pageant on June 11, 2022 at Pratt Community College in Pratt, Kansas. The Miss Kansas winner will then compete in the Miss America pageant to be held at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.