Eight Women With U of A Ties Compete for Miss Arkansas Title

Seven of the eight University of Arkansas competitors who will be vying for Miss Arkansas 2017 show their Razorback pig nose.
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Seven of the eight University of Arkansas competitors who will be vying for Miss Arkansas 2017 show their Razorback pig nose.

As the 80th anniversary Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant gets underway this week in Little Rock, the University of Arkansas will be well represented. Not only are the reigning Miss Arkansas Savannah Skidmore and Miss America Savvy Shields both University of Arkansas students, but eight more University of Arkansas students and alumnae will be competing for this year's crown.

These young women will compete in Private Interview, Artistic Expression, Lifestyle and Fitness as well as Presence and Poise. Each is hoping to bring home a $30,000 scholarship and more than $75,000 in prizes plus the chance to represent the state of Arkansas in the Miss America pageant this September in Atlantic City.

The pageant kicked off this weekend with official greetings from Arkansas alumna Loren McDaniel, Miss Arkansas 2015. Preliminary competition begins Tuesday, June 13, and the final competition will broadcast by KATV beginning at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 17. Emcees will be Chris Kane of KATV and Sarah Slocum Collins, Miss Arkansas 2009 and a graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law. Part of the broadcast will include historic footage of previous competitions from the university's David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History.

Miss Arkansas Savannah Skidmore

Savannah Skidmore, the reigning Miss Arkansas, is from Calico Rock and is majoring in broadcast journalism. During the past year, she has made appearances across the Natural State serving as Arkansas' spokesperson for the Children's Miracle Network and the Arkansas Children's Hospital and promoting her personal platform of "Speak Up Now: Suicide Prevention and Awareness."

She became Miss Arkansas when Savvy Shields, a Fayetteville native, was named Miss America for 2017. Shields has traveled the country 

The Miss America Organization is the largest scholarship provider for young women in the world, awarding over $45 million dollars each year on the local, state and national level.

The University of Arkansas has had 24 women serve as Miss Arkansas.

The 2017 Miss Arkansas Pageant begins this coming week at the the newly renovated Robinson Center in Little Rock. And the 80th Miss Arkansas will be crowned Saturday June 17.

Photo of Maggie Benton
Maggie Benton
Photo of Daryne Dahlem
Daryne Dahlem
Photo of Courtney DeVane
Courtney DeVane
Photo of Bethany Kasper
Bethany Kasper
Photo of Raygan Sylvester
Raygan Sylvester
Photo of Reagan Wheelis
Reagan Wheelis
Photo of Jacey Winn
Jacey Winn
Photo of Ashton Yarbrough
Ashton Yarbrough

Those contestants with ties to the University of Arkansas who are competing for Miss Arkansas 2015 are:

  • Maggie Benton — Miss Greater Jonesboro. Her platform is "Giving Is a Gift," and her talent will be a Broadway vocal, "The Music of the Night." She is a 2017 graduate and is from Jonesboro.
  • Daryne Dahlem — Miss University of Arkansas. Her plaform is "Know Who You Are," and her talent will be a vocal, "Somewhere." She is a member of the Honors College and from Greenwood.
  • Courtney DeVane — Miss Greater Hot Springs. Her platform is "Keeping School smART: Promoting the Arts in Schools," and her talent will be a vocal, "A New Life." She just finished her freshman year in the Honors College and is from Hot Springs.
  • Bethany Kasper — Miss Arkansas River. Her platform is "Our Kids Read," and her talent will be a vocal, "Maybe This Time." She is a sophomore from Jacksonville.
  • Raygan Sylvester — Miss Northwest Arkansas. Her platform is "Arrive Alive," and her talent will be jazz dance. She is a senior from North Little Rock.
  • Reagan Wheelis — Miss Apple Blossom. Her platform is "Breast Cancer Awareness: Early Detection Is Key," and her talent will be playing a piano solo, "Pirates of the Caribbean Medley." She is from Melbourne.
  • Jacey Winn — Miss Gateway to the Ozarks. Her platform is "Stand Tall, Stand Proud!" and her talent will be a vocal, "Next Time I Love." She is a graduate of the university from Wynne.
  • Ashton Yarbrough — Miss Heart of the Ozarks. Her platform is "Passion to Action: Volunteer," and her talent will be a vocal, "Open Arms." She is a junior from Gravette.

The University of Arkansas has produced 22 Miss Arkansas', including six women who captured the state title after winning the Miss University of Arkansas pageant:

  • Miss Arkansas 1957 Suzanne Scudder
  • Miss Arkansas 1959 Suzanne Jackson
  • Miss Arkansas 1964 Karen Carlson (1st Runner Up to Miss America)
  • Miss Arkansas 1965 Rhonda Oglesby
  • Miss Arkansas 1979 Janet Holman
  • Miss Arkansas 1987 Carole Lawson
  • Miss Arkansas 2016 Savannah Skidmore

The first Miss Arkansas to win the Miss America pageant, Donna Axum, is also a University of Arkansas alumna. She won in 1963, and has appeared with Shields at events this year.


Toni Bahn, media relations
Miss Arkansas Pageant
501-321-3506, missarkansaspress@gmail.com

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