The Miss Iowa Scholarship Pageant returns to Davenport’s Adler Theatre Thursday, Friday and Saturday, along with Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen Pageant.
The Miss Iowa Pageant has been held continuously since 1949.
The first Miss Iowa, Alta Sterling, was crowned in 1924, said Rachael Vopatek, director of public relations and marketing for the Miss Iowa Pageant.
In addition to being the first Miss Iowa, Vopatek said that, “Sterling has the distinction of being the first Jewish contestant to compete for Miss America.”
The pageant was next held in 1927 when Maude Mendenhall Wrigley was crowned. Then, it returned in 1933 when Eleanor Alma Dankenbring received the crown.
The pageant was held in 1935, 1936, and 1937, and then in 1939 and 1941. The years for World War II were skipped before the pageant returned in 1945. It also was held in 1946 and 1947. There was no Miss Iowa in 1948, but the pageant became a permanent staple in 1949 with the crowning of Barbara Juel and has been running strong since.
In 1970, Cheryl Brown Hollingworth, now of Lithonia, Georgia, a pretty and highly talented ballerina, became the first African-American to be crowned Miss Iowa, and became the first African-American to compete in the Miss America Pageant. She then went on to travel with the Miss American USO Troupe entertaining soldiers in Vietnam.
Miss Iowa 2017 will proceed in September to Atlantic City to compete for the Miss America 2018 crown.
This will be the 14th year for the Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen pageant which began in 2004 with Ashlie Burroughs of Muscatine taking the first crown.
The winner of Miss Iowa’s Outstanding Teen will compete in the national Miss America’s Outstanding Teen pageant in Orlando, Florida, in August.
This year’s Miss Iowa contestants are:
- Jessica Baker, 24, of Coralville. She is this year’s Miss Lake Cooper, and is the daughter of Jennifer Cole-Baker and Joel Baker. She attends Western Illinois University studying business marketing. Baker is the owner of Ambition Baton and Dance LLC. Her platform is Making Miracles Happen: For the Kids. Her talent is baton twirling.
- Johnna Cleaver, 21, of Des Moines. She is this year’s Miss Pearl City, and is the daughter of Carol Cleaver. She attends Iowa State University where she is studying management. Her goal is to be CEO of Mercy Hospital. Her platform is Love for the Elderly: A Journey to Kindness. Her talent is vocal.
- Emmy Cuvelier, 21, of Collins, Iowa. She is this year’s Miss Central Iowa, and is the daughter of Jeff and Tammy Cuvelier. She is attending Iowa State University where she is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in performing arts. Her goal is to become a Broadway performer and open a dance and musical theater studio. Her platform is Queen of Hearts: Women’s Health and CPR Education. Her talent is musical theater vocal.
- Chelsea Dubczak, 23, of Urbandale, Iowa. She is this year’s Miss Metro and is the daughter of Lori Dubczak. She attends Drake University where she is pursuing a bachelor’s of music in vocal performance. Her future goals include being a nutritional therapy practitioner, strength and conditioning coach, and cruise ship entertainer. Her platform is Ladies Who Lift: Encouraging young women to pursue their strongest selves. Her talent is opera.
- Maggie Gehlsen, 21, of DeWitt. She is this year’s Miss Clinton County and is the daughter of Nancy and Tim Gehlsen. She is a student at the University of Alabama majoring in exercise and sports science. Her future goals include obtaining a Master's degree in social work and exercise science while working as a corporate wellness director and counseling victims of sexual violence. Her platform is Take Back Our Campus: Sexual Assault Prevention & Education. Her talent is baton twirling.
- Emma Haselhuhn, 20, of Eddyville, Iowa. She is this year’s Miss Eastern Iowa and is the daughter of Mark Haselhuhn and Carolyn Haselhuhn. She is a student at Drake University studying public relations and marketing. Her future goals include working for the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association as the head of public relations and marketing. Her platform is The Domino Effect. Her talent is alto saxophone solo.
- Mikahyla Hughes-Shaw, 20, of Rock Island. She is this year’s Miss Wild Rose and is the daughter of Alicia (Shaw) Rogers and Thomas Hughes. She is a student at the University of Iowa where she is majoring in journalism and mass communication. Her future goal is to transition from a journalist to a TV show host. Her platform is How About H.O.P.E.-Suicide Awareness. Her talent is contemporary violin.
- Maddison Lange, 21, of Centerville. She is this year’s Miss Muscatine and is the daughter of Tom and Kathy Lange. She attends the University of Iowa where she is majoring in finance and pre-med. Her ambition is to become a pediatric oncologist. Her platform is Lock Your Meds: Stop Prescription Drug Abuse. Her talent is tap dance.
- Lexi Marek, 22, of Riverside, Iowa. She is this year’s Miss Greater Des Moines and is the daughter of Heather and Tim Marek. She is a student at Iowa State University majoring in public service and administration in agriculture. Her ambition is to continue working with FarmHer (her platform) and run her family's farm and later travel the country as a motivational speaker and TV host. Her platform is FarmHer: Growing Leaders. Her talent is tap dance.
- Anna Masengarb, 20, of Muscatine. She is this year’s Miss Scott County and is the daughter of Pam and Todd Cantrell and John and Shelly Masengarb. She attends Millikin University where she is majoring in business management and Spanish with a minor in theater. Her goal is to become a real estate agent. Her platform is Finding Cures, Saving Children: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Her talent is musical theater vocal.
- Marrissa Messinger, 21, of West Des Moines. She is this year’s Miss Polk County and is the daughter of Bob and Mary Messinger. She attends Briar Cliff University where she is majoring in mass communications. Her goal is to be an international social worker. Her platform is the 5 Ws of sexual assault. Her talent is lyrical color guard.
- Cheyenne Prowant, 20, of Davenport. She is this year’s Miss Burlington and is the daughter of Cherie Prowant-Foster and Robert Goodwin. She attends Black Hawk College where she is majoring in equine science. Her goal is to obtain a doctorate in equine science and education. Her platform is PTSD-Beyond the Battlefield. Her talent is flute solo.
- Paige Siegworth, 20, of New London. She is this year’s Miss Palisades and is the daughter of Kellie and Steve Siegworth. She attends Southeastern Community College where she is pursuing her Associate Arts degree. Her goal is to lead a youth ministry. Her platform is Be Sun Smart: Learn About Melanoma. Her talent is tap dance.
- Emily Tinsman, 20, of Bettendorf. She is this year’s Miss Cedar Valley and is the daughter of Bruce and Sharon Tinsman. She attends Drake University where she is studying music education. Her goal is to become a music teacher. Her platform is TEMPOS: Teaching and Encouraging Music Participation in Our Schools. Her talent is classical vocal.
- Lacey Verink, 21, of Letts. She is this year’s Miss Heartland and is the daughter of Tim and Linda Verink. She attends Mercy College of Health Sciences where she is pursuing her Bachelor’s in nursing. Her goal is to obtain her Doctorate of nurse practitioner specializing in pediatric care. Her platform is A Champion for Women: A Path to a Healthy Heart. Her talent is ventriloquism.
- Johannah Vittetoe, 22, of Washington. She is this year’s Miss Southeast Iowa and is the daughter of Thomas Vittetoe and Tammy Vittetoe. She attends Iowa State University where she is majoring in elementary education. Her goal is to obtain a degree in elementary education specializing in social studies with a reading endorsement. Her platform is Find the Beauty: Anorexia Nervosa Prevention & Awareness. Her talent is clog dancing.