Mrs. Missouri, Mrs. Kansas crowned at pageant

The Mrs. Missouri United States and Mrs. Kansas United States pageants crowned their 2013 winners Sunday night at the Missouri Theater.

Mrs. Bootheel United States Kristy Kelley became Mrs. Missouri United States, while Mrs. Lawrence United States Rachel Karwas was chosen as Mrs. Kansas United States.

Both women now move on to compete at the Mrs. United States national pageant, which will be held in July in Las Vegas.

A field of eight contestants competed for the Mrs. Missouri title, while the Mrs. Kansas pageant featured seven candidates. Each slate was narrowed to three finalists by a panel of three judges.

Jennifer Vannatta-Fisher — Mrs. Kansas 1998 who served as emcee — congratulated all the contestants for participating just ahead of the big announcement.

“You could just as easily be home on the couch right now,” she said.

Three judges held private interviews with the candidates on Sunday morning. They spent Saturday meeting with pageant staff and the other contestants.

Two on-stage questions, compiled from among peers and the judges, were posed to each of the finalists — who were selected based on preliminary scores from swimsuit, evening gown and the private interview categories.

The pageant was produced by Vanbros & Associates of Overland Park.

A pageant official praised St. Joseph’s perennial role as the host city.

“We love the facility,” said executive coordinator Karen Elliott, who called the theater “absolutely beautiful.”

“It, to us, has a family feel,” Ms. Elliott said. “And this is a family show.”

She also hailed the work of Frank Polleck, the theater’s technical director, for assisting with the pageant each year.

Recruiting and arrangements for next year’s pageants begin after the winners are crowned, Ms. Elliott said, and remain active until the next program.