Sunflower Princesses spend quality time with 2021 MKSOT candidates in Pratt

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen 2021 contestants met with their Sunflower Princesses for ice cream sundaes and historical museum tours last Friday in Pratt.

A colorful table of ice-cream sundae snacks greeted 13 in-person and 3 virtual Sunflower Princesses at the Miss Kansas 2021 Outstanding Teen social last Friday at the Pratt County Historical Museum. But it was the actual Miss Teen candidates who came to Pratt from across the state that the young Sunflowers showered with interest. The excitement in the air was palpable as princesses matched up with their Teen partners while others made a beeline for 2019 Miss Kansas Outstanding Teen Tori Pedruzzi who was on hand, signing autographs.

"What does your sash say? Do you get to keep the sash always? Is it hard to walk in those shoes? How old are you? What do you get if you win?"

Those were just some of the questions flying fast and furious between several Sunflower Princesses and Pedruzzi, who wore a clear COVID-19 mask as did many of the competitors.

The whole event, orchestrated by Miss KSOT coordinator Amy Swindler of Pratt, revolved around connections made between the older and younger girls involved.

"We've had a virtual and in-person paint party, ate pizza together and now get to tour the museum together," Swindler said. "Tomorrow we'll have a dance party for the girls, and they will get to be on stage for introductions during the Saturday Miss Kansas 2021 Teen Finals. It's all going very well."

A popular spot in the historical museum was the special section upstairs dedicated to collections of Miss Kansas memorabilia from pageants held in Pratt through the years.

Miss Kansas 2019-2020 Annika Wooton was on hand to take pictures with her dress from the 2019 competition. Many Sunflower Princesses and Teen contestants also posed with her for their own memory book snapshots.

Several Miss Teen 2021 candidates gathered around the Miss Kansas program book collection table, leafing through editions that spanned generations. They marvelled at the changes in clothing and hair styles and noted money amounts raised in donations.

"It's been hard for all of us, waiting for 2021 to finally get here," said Miss Southwest Teen Alyssa Gregg. "Most of us won our titles in 2019, then had to wait all through 2020 because of COVID-19. We're all so glad our weekend is finally here."

There were nine total Miss Kansas 2021 Outstanding Teen competitors this year and all were present at the ice cream social, taking the time to match up with their young admirers and offering encouragement by way of friendship and support.

Miss Dodge City Kami Breese joined her Sunflower Princess Summer Breese at the ice cream and sundae topping line, while Miss Boot Hill Dymond Salem and her princess, Rhiannon Salem (both of Dodge City) visited quietly nearby.

Eventual 2021 overall winner Miss Johnson County Gracie Hendrickson (of Newton) took time for shared smiles and pictures with her two Sunflower Princesses Anna Schertz and Ade Flaming (both from Hesston).

"We know Gracie through her parent's chiropractic branch in Hesston," Flaming's mother said. "Our two girls have been lifelong friends and this is something they have had a big interest in. They are so excited to be here with Gracie this weekend in Pratt."

Charmaine Swanepoel, Director of the Pratt County Historical Museum, said she and her crew at the museum were honored to host the 2021 Miss Teen ice cream social.

"The girls are all so beautiful inside and out and we wish them all the best of luck," she said. "We are so happy to be part of this wonderful organization that provides so much inspiration and support for these young girls."