A pair of Mitchell locals will take their platforms, talents and beauty to compete for the coveted crown of Miss South Dakota's Outstanding Teen today through Saturday.
Kate Dailey and Laney Titze were crowned winners at their respective regional pageants, which earned the local contestants a chance at becoming Miss South Dakota's Outstanding Teen at the state pageant in Brookings. This year's pageant is the first to be held away from Hot Springs, which had hosted for the last 72 years.
The two are among 13 contestants vying for the state's teen top pageant honor, and the winner represents South Dakota in the Miss America Outstanding Teen pageant on July 27 in Orlando, Florida. At the state competition, contestants are judged on a private interview with the judges (20 percent), talent (50 percent), evening wear and social impact (15 percent) and on-stage interview (15 percent).
Representing Miss Mitchell's Outstanding Teen at the state pageant is Afton Riggs, a Sioux Falls resident, who was crowned at the January 12 pageant.
Dailey builds youth confidence
Although Dailey is relatively new to competing in beauty pageants, the 16-year-old captured the judges attention at the Miss Missouri Valley's Outstanding Teen pageant on January 13 in Vermillion.
"It was a relief winning my first pageant, and I was really excited to have the opportunity to show everyone what my platform is all about at the state pageant," Dailey said.
Having dealt with bullying throughout much of her early life, Dailey searched for ways to eliminate similar experiences happening to other kids. In that search, Dailey founded her platform, "You Go Girl."
Through her platform, Dailey hopes to build and instill confidence in the lives of young elementary school kids. Her platform also caught the eyes of the EmBe kids club, and throughout the summer, Dailey will be providing the club with self-esteem-building activities.
"A goal of my platform is to help kids be confident in what they want to accomplish through their middle school and high school years, and I want them to be proud of who they are," Dailey said. "I struggled with bullying in elementary school, so I want to do everything I can to make sure no other boys or girls feel that same way," Dailey said.
As a member of Mitchell's Friend de Coup show choir, Dailey was able to put her musical talents on display in front of pageant judges at the Miss Mitchell Outstanding Teen pageant in 2018.
"Music is my sport, and I loved being able to add my own sense of style to my music performance," said Dailey, who performed a song from the classic film Mary Poppins.
A year later, her skills helped Dailey earn runner-up in this year's Miss Mitchell Outstanding Teen pageant, in which was the third pageant she competed. But Dailey was determined to earn a crown and a trip to the Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen pageant, which she accomplished in January.
"I've made some of my best friends from competing in pageants, and we have made lifelong memories," Dailey said. "All of us girls support each other and give positive support."
Titze gives back through art
It didn't take long before Titze donned her first pageant crown either, as she was named Miss Railroad Junction's Outstanding Teen on July 14, 2018 at the Miss Siouxland Pageant in Sioux Falls. It marked her second pageant experience.
Titze said the 2018 Miss Mitchell Outstanding Teen pageant was the first competition she entered, which she credits for helping her become comfortable on the big stage during pageants.
"So much has changed from the first pageant, and now I have a platform that I'm very proud of," Titze said. "It was really nerve-racking to compete in my first pageant, but I have gained a lot of speaking skills since."
Her platform is called Art for All, and Titze has been using it to give back to the community through the world of art. For the past year, Titze has made trips to elementary schools that lack an art program, such as John Paul II Elementary School in Mitchell. Titze said she loves seeing how kids unite around art when she visits classrooms to provide painting, drawing and other art activities.
"I promote the arts, and I show the kids different forms of art through my own personal experiences, and I also teach kids how artwork can help their lives," Titze said.
While her platform is centered around art, Titze said the death of her friend when she was in middle school is what developed her passion for art.
"Before middle school, I actually hated art. But I lost a friend around that same time, and she was really passionate about the arts. She was the one who really got me into art," Titze said.
In addition to Titze's unique platform, the 16-year-old will show off her piano skills for the talent portion of the pageant. Titze has been a pianist since she was in fifth grade. At the Miss South Dakota Outstanding Teen pageant in Brookings, Titze will be playing a college level piano solo that she learned with the help of YouTube.
When she's not busy creating art and building her platform, Titze is competing with the Mitchell High School debate team. Titze said she plans to attend college for science education and feels the skills she's developed through competing in pageants will help her become a better teacher.
"I love working with kids, and competing in pageants have really helped me grow my communication skills," Titze said.