PRATT, Kan. (KAKE) - The Miss Kansas pageant has been a staple in the Pratt community for decades. It’s where style, service, and scholarship create success and sisterhood. It’s also the place where year after year Midwest royalty is crowned. 

“When people think of Pratt, they think of Miss Kansas,” said Ashley Smith, Pratt Chamber of Commerce. 

“It kinda puts us on the map per se,” said Lisa Perez-Miller, long-time volunteer and former executive director of Miss Kansas.

“I think it brings the community together,” said Stephanie Harris, executive director of the Miss Kansas pageant. 

A showcase of scholarship and beauty has been held in Pratt, Kansas since 1955. 

“It absolutely empowers women,” said Tara Dawn Holland-Christensen, former Miss Kansas and Miss America.

“Beauty is just one part,” said Sue Givens, the Miss Kansas show producer. 

“So many little girls come up and they dream to become that one day too,” said Charmaine Swaneplel, the curator for the Pratt County Historical Museum.

“There’s gotta be something special about her,” said Larry Strong, long-time volunteer. 

The Miss Kansas pageant has empowered young women for decades, inspiring success and community service. But it’s what the women competing, otherwise known as delegates, gain that’s so special. 

“Young women can tell the story that because of this organization I’ve walked into a job interview, and have been very confident and comfortable and it's because of the Miss America experience or the Miss Kansas interview. And that’s really what it’s all about empowering women to be the best they can be,” said Perez-Miller. 

Because interviewing is a big part of the competition, each young woman leaves the stage better equipped to be an advocate and leader in their community. 

The delegates gain support systems, professional development skills, confidence, life-long friendships, and the ability to fund their education through the annual competition.

“There will be young women who are here, older women who are here who have been Miss Kansas who have funded their entire college education or advanced studies with money from competing in the Miss Kansas organization,” said Givens. 

Every young woman that competes in the Miss Kansas pageant walks away with a scholarship to further her education or pay off her student loan debt. 

“The Miss America Organization is the world's largest scholarship program for women,” explains Megan Bushell-Wehrie, Miss Kansas 2004.

This year the Miss Kansas pageant will disburse more than $58,000 in scholarships. These scholarships can be life changing.

The scholarship pageant means a lot to the whole state but it holds a special place in the heart of those that live in Pratt. 

“I can’t see it being anywhere else but Pratt,” said Strong. 

It’s unique for a state pageant to be held in such a small community but in many ways that makes it all the more special for the 6500 folks that live in Pratt Kansas. 

“Aligning with the Miss Kansas competition certainly brings a number of people to town each year,” said Perez-Miller. 

Hundreds of people witness the pageant parade each year. The week of the pageant, downtown Pratt goes all out in welcoming the delegates. 

“I really think it brings pride to this community,” said Smith. 

In its nearly 70 years of being held in Pratt, the pageant has brought in millions of dollars to the local economy via hotel use, restaurants, and local businesses.

“The people of Pratt support the pageant really well,” said Strong. 

The pageant isn’t just an economic boost. There’s positive social impacts that come from the community rallying together year after year for these young women. The whole community welcomes those who could soon be Midwest royalty with open arms year after year.