Mariah Rickard will reign as Miss Pequot Lakes 2019 after winning the crown Friday evening, April 12, at the annual scholarship pageant in the Pequot Lakes High School auditorium.
Whitney Fink and Taylor Schulz both won a place as Miss Pequot Lakes Princess, and Schulz also was chosen Miss Congeniality. Other candidates were Alexa Fyle, Mackenzie Nelson and Shayna Schmidt.
"I do not have any words," said Rickard, wiping away a few lingering tears following the coronation. "I just had the most fun that I could with everything this week, and I think that was the key to, like, just overall a great experience. Because honestly, if you don't have a good experience, then I feel like it's not really worth doing if you're not going to try your hardest. So I just went out there and gave it everything I've got, and it worked! I don't know, I'm so happy to be here."
She was soon whisked back into the crowd on stage by a group of friends and well-wishers.
Rickard, a junior at PLHS, won a $3,000 scholarship along with the Miss Pequot Lakes crown. She plans to go into a career in nursing. She participates in volleyball, softball and speech, and has a passion for dance that was showcased in the talent portion of the pageant.
Fink and Schulz each earned a $1,500 scholarship as princesses, and Schulz also will receive a $750 scholarship as Miss Congeniality.
"It feels awesome," said Fink. "It's such a great opportunity, and I'm so excited for the upcoming year to spend time with these girls that are so amazing. We were all so tight this week and spent so much time together."
Fink, a PLHS junior, plans to become a dermatologist. She is interested in tennis, alpine ski racing and track and field. She presented self-produced short GoPro videos set to music during the talent competition.
Miss Congeniality is an honor given to Schulz by her fellow contestants as opposed to the judges' scores.
"I'm absolutely astonished that this happened," she said. "I didn't believe that I would get two sashes and a crown."
Schulz is a senior at Crosslake Community School. She plans to join the military after graduation. Her interests include exploring the outdoors, enjoying time with family and archery, which she demonstrated by shooting a balloon filled with confetti for the talent portion.
The six contestants in the pageant were judged in four categories of competition - casual conversation, talent, evening gown and a candidate interview that took place before the main event.
Many contestants showed off unconventional talents when they took the stage. Fyle used her time in front of the community to discuss the realities of anxiety and the importance of seeking help when struggling with mental health. Nelson demonstrated how firefighters stay safe on the job, including the gear they wear. Schmidt showed her fishing skills.
A portion of the pageant was dedicated to honoring John and Caroljean Weise, who have supported the pageant and helped to put it on for more than two decades. They are the first inductees to the Miss Pequot Lakes Scholarship Pageant Hall of Fame.
"There's one thing I've learned - when I am asked to help with the pageant, I can't say no," laughed Caroljean.
Past Miss Pequot Lakes queens sponsored by the Pequot Lakes Woman's Club include: Heidi Bost, 1982; Lisa Wetrosky, 1983; Susan Hardy, 1984; Teresa Otteson, 1985; Carla Thiede, 1986; Jodie Tweed, 1987; Lisa Peterson, 1988; Nancy Malecha and Bobbi Shaw, 1989; Stephanie Wilson, 1990; Tammy Tulenchik, 1991; Maria Thiede 1992; Katie Thiede, 1994; Trisha Roggenkamp, 1995; Kelsi Landgren, 1996; Jane Dullum, 1997; Arika Thiede, 1998; Patti Westerlund, 1999; Jessica O'Neill, 2000; Carrie Klick, 2001; Tiffany Varilek, 2002; Kimberly Larson, 2003; Caitlin Kennedy, 2004; Shayna Rudlang, 2005.
Past Miss Pequot Lakes queens sponsored by Community Action of Pequot Lakes include: Kendra Johnson, 2011; Jenny Watt, 2012; Angela Cole, 2013; Vanessa Lane, 2014; Nicole Barta, 2015; Megan Morgan, 2016; Alexis Lueck, 2017; Hailee Swenson, 2018.