Dodge City crowned a new Miss Dodge City, Miss Cowboy Capital and the town’s first ever Miss Boot Hill on Saturday at Dodge City Middle School.
Sarah Gustin of Hays is the new 2017 Miss Dodge City title holder. Katelyn Unruh of Copeland is Miss Cowboy Capital and Jetta Smith of Oklahoma City, Okla., is Dodge City’s first ever Miss Boot Hill.
The first runner up was Emily Rugg. Christina Million was given the people’s choice award as well as the business savvy award, which is given to the contestant who brought in the most sponsors.
“The 2017 pageant was special for the fact that it was the first time ever in the Miss Dodge City organization that we awarded three titles,” said Jenna Powers, executive director of the Miss Dodge City organization. “In the past, it’s just been the two titles and a total of roughly 8 contestants. This year, we gave out 3 titles and had 15 contestants, which is a lot.”
The contestants were scored based 35 percent on talent, 25 percent on the interview, 20 percent on evening wear, 15 percent on lifestyle and fitness in swimwear and 5 percent on the on-stage question.
Gustin, 19, went to Thomas More Prep-Marian High School and currently studies agriculture pre-law at Kansas State University. This June will mark Gustin’s second appearance at the Miss Kansas pageant.
“I’ve had experience in the Miss America organization because I was Miss Golden Belt last year,” said Gustin. “One of the directors asked me if I was interested in doing the Dodge City pageant, and I said ‘sure, why not?’”
Miss Golden Belt is part of the Miss Barton County pageant in Great Bend. On top of pageants, Gustin is also very involved with her sorority at K-State and enjoys baking.
“Every time I go home, I always have to take over the kitchen,” said Gustin. “I love baking, and college students don’t necessarily have the resources or the appliances necessary for extravagant baking.”
Unruh, 22, graduated from South Gray High School. She currently studies elementary education with a minor in special education at Fort Hays State University.
“I am very involved with my college ministry up at school, but I really just enjoy spending time with friends,” said Unruh. “I actually really enjoy working out, that’s something I love to do. I love spending time with people close to me, going shopping and doing things like that.”
This year marked Unruh’s very first pageant.
“I think it was something, honestly, that God just put on my heart to pursue and just to go out there,” said Unruh. “The pageant setting made me feel like I was at home. Being able to dance and perform and wear all the dresses, I just love that so it was right up my alley.”
Smith, 20, attended Classen High School in Oklahoma City. Smith played college basketball for two years at Colby Community College before transferring to Fort Hays State University to study journalism for political science.
“My hobbies are politics, actually,” said Smith. “I love watching debates, news or anything that’s going on in the world. I also love to binge-watch the documentaries that they have on Netflix.”
Smith has had some experience with pageants prior to the Miss Dodge City pageant.
“I did pageants as a teen, then I started playing college basketball and it just didn’t work with my schedule,” said Smith. “Now that I am just a regular student, I have the free time to do it again.”
Smith expressed her excitement about becoming the first title holder of Miss Boot Hill.
“It feels amazing,” said Smith. “I’m really in awe that I am able to take this title, work with my platform, work with team Dodge and go to Miss Kansas, it’s really shocking to me.”
In the talent portion of the pageant, Gustin performed “Cell Block Tango” from the movie Chicago, Unruh recited a poem she wrote titled “Hear me Roar” and Smith performed an act called “the Correct Spelling of Father.”
Both Miss Kansas and Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen, Kendall Schoenekase and Paige Kauffman, were there as well as the 2016 Miss Dodge City and Miss Cowboy Capital, Sydney Jaeger and Kelsey Cohoon.
All three winners received multiple rewards. All three winners received a $500 scholarship from Dodge City Community College, a pair of diamond earrings sponsored by K Martin Jewler, a $300 gift certificate to Foggy Bottoms in Wichita, and a $250 scholarship from the Miss Dodge City organization. Two of the contestants also received a $500 scholarship from Gibson Pharmacy, one a $500 scholarship from Diamond Roofing.
“I think this next year is going to be absolutely phenomenal, we have such a diverse group this year,” said Powers. “We have a veteran on the team, and then we have the newbies, so there’s going to be a lot of learning and growing for everyone.”
The three title winners will return to Dodge City multiple times throughout the year to participate in local events.
“From here until the next pageant, we have numerous events throughout the community,” said Powers. “We typically start off with the Winter Expo, followed by a Night to Shine. Then we have Miss Kansas in June, followed by the entire Dodge City Days 10-day event. Any other event that happens in Dodge, people will reach out to us if they would like the title holders to be there.”
All three title holders plan on growing their platform and working with the Dodge City community.
“My plan is to engage in community involvement as much as I can with my platform as well as the Children's Miracle Network hospitals,” said Gustin. “Really just anything I can do to help contribute to the community that’s already established here in Dodge City.”
“Honestly, I want to be a good role model because that’s something we need so much today,” said Unruh. “Just to be that positive role model both on and off social media.”
“I’m going to work on my platform ‘no means no,’” said Smith. “It’s bringing awareness and prevention methods to sexual assault on college campuses. I also want to give back more to the Dodge community because every time I’ve been there, they’ve always been so nice and welcoming.”
With a long road ahead, Powers is eager to begin working with the new title holders.
“At the end of the day it’s all about how you learn with the girls and grow with them, just the bond everybody creates,” said Powers. “We call ourselves ‘team Dodge’ for a reason. We are such a family.”