Nicole Kelly of Keokuk, the reigning Miss Metro, was named Miss Iowa 2013 after three days of competition in the annual Miss Iowa Scholarship Pageant at Davenport’s Adler Theatre on Saturday.
She is the 72nd woman to hold the title of Miss Iowa.
Kelly, 22, is the daughter of Mike and Pam Kelly, and will represent Iowa in the Miss America Pageant. She attends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she is majoring in directing and theatre management. She aspires to work on Broadway.
First runner-up was Miss Muscatine, Isabella Blaine, 24, of West Des Moines. Second runner-up was Miss Greater Des Moines, Kaitlyn Cole, 23, of Fort Dodge. Third runner-up was Miss Johnson County, Taylor Wiebers, 19, of Clinton. Fourth runner-up was Miss Liberty, Jessica Baker, 20, of Coralville.
Kathy Medhus of Moline spent 33 years on the Miss Iowa Scholarship Pageant Board, with her time beginning when Mary Beth England Dircks became Miss Iowa 1978.
Medhus, who attended the Miss Iowa Scholarship Pageant with her husband, Glenn, said that with each year that passes, the women who compete get better and better and this year was no exception.
“They are impressive,” Medhus said minutes before the final night began. “I am impressed. These ladies are so intelligent, and talented.
“People think it’s simply a beauty contest,” she said. “Yes, the women are always beautiful. But by the time they reach this stage they’ve grown into intelligent, articulate, talented, and educated women with goals of making a positive difference in the world.”
As the pageant was about to begin, Tobias and Suzanne Lunsford of Burlington, the parents of Miss Iowa 2012, Mariah Cary, were helping get the final touches for the pageant in order.
For the Lunsfords, it was whirlwind of a year with their child making it to fourth runner up in the Miss America Pageant.
“It’s been an amazing eventful year,” Suzanne Lunsford said. “It has been a lot of fun. We’ve watched our daughter grow into this magnificent woman. And while it’s bittersweet tonight, she will always be Miss Iowa 2012.”
“It really was a family affair,” Tobias Lunsford said. “We have been so blessed. It’s been a blessing for our family and especially for our youngest daughter. We wouldn’t trade this for the world.”
Emma Kate Wichman, 15, Miss Scott County’s Outstanding Teen, won the title of Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen and will represent Iowa in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant in Orlando, Fla., in August.
The Miss America Pageant will be held Sept. 15 in Atlantic City.