HOT SPRINGS - Bethany Whitfield, Miss Greater Little Rock won the Preliminary Artistic Expression in Talent award; Miss Heart of the Ozarks Sloane Roberts, Miss South Arkansas Lauren Howell and Miss University of Arkansas Tracy Neal tied for the Preliminary Presence and Poise in Evening Gown Preliminary award; and Miss White River Helen Wisner won the Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit Preliminary Award on Wednesday, the opening night of the 75th Anniversary Miss Arkansas Pageant at Summit Arena in Hot Springs.
Each of the winning contestants won an $800 scholarship provided by The Hatcher Agency, an Anonymous Donor and Venue.
Emcee and former Executive Director Rick Pruitt, along with Miss Arkansas 2011 Kristen Glover of Stuttgart, was on hand Wednesday night to present these awards.
Also joining Pruitt tonight to assist with the emcee duties was Miss Arkansas 2004 Lacy Fleming Glover. Glover resides in Conway with her husband Sam, and their 2-year-old daughter Kate. Glover, a native of Hampton, captured the title of Miss Arkansas as Miss Ouachita Baptist University. She performed a vocal to “Last Dance” for her talent and placed 3rd Runner Up at Miss America 2005.
Whitfield is a 23 year old 2nd Year Law Student at the University of Arkansas. For her winning talent selection she performed a vocal to “Somewhere.” She is from Bryant.
Roberts is a 19 year old student at the University of Arkansas. She promotes Love Always Hopes – Preventing Child Abduction. She is from Rison.
Neal is a 22 year old 2nd Year Graduate Student at the University of Arkansas. She promotes Pink Courage: Fighting for the Cure. She is from Bryant.
Howell is a22 year old student at University of central Arkansas. She promotes Giving Children Hope through A Smile. She is from Conway.
Wisner is a 23 year old graduate of the University of Arkansas Graduate School. She is from North Little Rock.
For the fifth year Alpha Awards were presented for each phase of competition. These are presented to first-time Miss Arkansas contestants that garner the most points in their respective groups each night. Alpha Award winners receive $100 scholarships from the Miss Arkansas Executive Director Association.
Alpha Award winners Wednesday night were: Miss Ouachita Baptist University MaryLacey Thomason (Artistic Expression in Talent), Miss Three Rivers Courtney Welsh and Miss Greater Hot Springs Samantha Hudon (Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit) Miss Southeast Arkansas Mary Ellen Hunthrop (Presence and Poise in Evening Gown).
Thomason is 21 years old and a student at Ouachita Baptist University.
Welsh is 18 years old and a student at the University of Mississippi.
Hudon 20 years old and a student at the University of Central Arkansas.
Hunthrop is 22 years old a student at the University of Central Arkansas. She is from White Hall.
A new award given this year is the Service Before Self award. It will be awarded each night with a scholarship in the amount of $250. It honors a Hot Springs Civic Organization that has been instrumental in our pageant’s success. Our organization honored was the Hot Springs Ambassador Club. Tonight’s winner was Miss Northwest Arkansas Sarah Elise Gafvert.
This year’s Miss Arkansas Pageant is themed “75 and Feelin’ Good ” and celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant. This year’s show features 47 contestants from around the state. They are competing for more than $86,000 in college and university scholarship funds.
The newly crowned Miss Arkansas’ Outstanding Teen 2012 Laura Leigh Turner of North Little Rock, was on hand tonight and performed with the other local Outstanding Teen title holders.
Competition continues with preliminaries on Thursday and Friday night at 7pm. Final competition is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday and includes the naming of the Top 10 semi-finalists. There will be a pre-show Tribute to Buddy Coleman and the Coleman Family (namesake of the Overall Talent Award) beginning at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night. Reigning Miss Arkansas and Miss America Quality of Life Finalist Kristen Glover, will be on hand to crown the new Miss Arkansas.
For tickets to the rest of preliminary competition or the final night please go to www.ticketmaster.com or visit the Summit Arena box office. For more information about the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant please visit www.missarkansas.org.