Seven of Cass County’s most accomplished young women will showcase their leadership skills this year at one of the county fair’s most popular events.
The local residents will compete in the 2019 Cass County Fair Queen Contest. The event will highlight an evening of activities at the Cass County Fairgrounds on Wednesday, Aug. 7.
Contestants will take part in a luncheon at the First Congregational Church-UCC in Weeping Water at 12 p.m. Judges will interview each contestant for 10-20 minutes during the afternoon. The young women will appear at the fairgrounds at 7 p.m. and take part in the pageant at 7:30 p.m.
Each candidate will represent a Cass County community in the contest. This year’s queen contestants are Miss Elmwood Sydney Kunz, Miss Louisville Carsen Knott, Miss Manley McKenna Jones, Miss Murdock Morgan Mills, Miss Murray Riley Zimmerman, Miss Plattsmouth Riley Fitzpatrick and Miss Weeping Water Taylor Essary.
Contestants must be between the ages of 17-21 as of July 1 to be eligible for the Cass County Fair Queen Contest. They must have graduated from high school by the end of the 2018-19 academic year and must reside in a Cass County community. A candidate is eligible for the contest if she works or goes to school outside the county but lives in a Cass County town.
All seven candidates will deliver a speech that focuses on this year’s county fair theme of “Country Fun for Everyone” at the pageant. Each speech will be three to four minutes in length. They will then be asked a question they have not heard or rehearsed before on stage. They will answer the extemporaneous questions in a random order in front of the audience.
Judges will then go to a private area on the fairgrounds to determine the queen and princess winners. The queen will receive a $500 cash award, sash and crown. The princess will receive a $250 cash award and sash. The princess will handle the responsibilities of the queen if she is unable to carry out her duties during the year.
Sophia Svanda will help crown the new Miss Cass County at the end of the contest. She served as Miss Cass County during the past year.
All seven candidates will appear in the Cass County Grand Parade at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10. Each contestant will ride in a car during the parade and their names will be announced to the crowd.
Sydney Kunz will wear the title of Miss Elmwood at the event. She is the daughter of Ken and Chris Kunz and is a 2019 graduate of Elmwood-Murdock High School. She is planning to attend Maryville University and major in graphic design.
Sydney earned many academic honors and was salutatorian of her class. She took numerous dual-credit courses through Southeast Community College and served as vice president of the senior class. She represented the communities of Elmwood and Murdock at Cornhusker Girls State in 2018.
Sydney was a four-year member of Student Council at Elmwood-Murdock. She also took part in volleyball, basketball, track and field, Science Club, Art Club and Future Business Leaders of America. She was captain of both the volleyball and basketball teams as a senior and earned All-East Central Nebraska Conference volleyball honors all four years. She also earned Academic All-State recognition for four years.
Sydney’s FBLA experience included several trips to the National Leadership Conference. She earned a state championship in the Local Chapter Annual Business Report category and was media director of the state-level FBLA Executive Progress Committee.
Carsen Knott will represent Louisville in the 2019 contest. She is the daughter of Ray and Karla Knott and is a 2019 graduate of Louisville High School. She is planning to attend Bryan College of Health Sciences to earn a degree in nursing anesthesia practices.
Carsen graduated from LHS with high academic distinction and was a four-year member of the Gold Honor Roll. She served as National Honor Society president in 2018-19 and was president of Louisville’s SkillsUSA chapter as a junior and senior. She earned four letters in both cheerleading and cross country and helped the cheerleading squad win a state title in 2018.
Carsen organized local blood drives at LHS and delivered food to low-income families through the Meals on Wheels program. She took part in a Stuff the Bus campaign in 2017 that brought hundreds of items to the Omaha Open Door Mission. She has been a youth representative at her church’s council meetings for the past several years.
Carsen became a certified nursing assistant in 2016 and a trained restorative aide in 2018. She has worked as a nursing assistant at Louisville Care Community since 2016.
McKenna Jones will compete as Miss Manley at the county fair. She is the daughter of Cheryl Jones and is a 2019 graduate of Louisville High School. She is planning to attend Nebraska Wesleyan University to earn degrees in both musical theater and elementary education.
McKenna took part in many musical activities at Louisville. She played oboe and earned first-chair status at the East Central Nebraska Conference Honor Band all four years. She was first-chair oboe at the Nebraska Class C Honor Band for two years and earned the John Philip Sousa Award at Louisville as a senior. She also sang in the alto section of the school choir for four years.
McKenna was a member of two state championship cheerleading teams and earned several play production awards. She qualified for two state speech meets and captured recognition from the National Speech and Debate Association. She participated in the Nebraska High School Theatre Academy for three years and has appeared in several productions at the Lofte Community Theatre in Manley.
McKenna has taken part in dance activities for 14 years. She earned the Nebraska Young Artist Award as a junior for her dancing skills.
Morgan Mills will wear the title of Miss Murdock in this year’s contest. She is the daughter of Don and Diane Mills and is a 2019 graduate of Elmwood-Murdock High School. She will take pre-requisite work at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln before attending nursing school at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
Morgan earned many academic honors at Elmwood-Murdock and took numerous dual-credit courses through Southeast Community College. She participated in basketball, track and field, girls golf and volleyball during her high school career and was involved in SkillsUSA for six years.
Morgan took part in Future Business Leaders of America for four years and qualified for several FBLA National Leadership Conference activities. She participated in community service projects for four years and served as Elmwood-Murdock’s chapter president as a senior. She was state secretary for the Nebraska FBLA organization as a senior and traveled across the nation in her role.
Morgan has helped with Sunday School activities at her local church and has participated in food drives for the area food pantry for 12 years. She has participated in her local 4-H club for 13 years and has been president for two years. She has been a member of the Cass County 4-H Youth Council for three years. She has also earned awards in many local 4-H activities.
Riley Zimmerman will compete as Miss Murray at the pageant. She is the daughter of Zack and Brooklin Zimmerman and is a 2019 graduate of Conestoga High School. She will study nursing at Missouri Western State University.
Riley earned a host of academic awards at Conestoga and was an Academic All-State recipient. She collected academic letters all four years of high school and was on the Conestoga Honor Roll multiple times. She was inducted into the school’s chapter of National Honor Society for her academic and community achievements.
Riley was captain of both the volleyball and cheerleading teams as a senior and won a pair of varsity volleyball letters. She lettered for four years in cheerleading, track and field and play production and attended the East Central Nebraska Conference Leadership Summit. She was a member of a group of students that asked the district to strengthen its tobacco-free policy in 2018. The effort resulted in a more comprehensive drug-free policy on Conestoga property.
Riley has traveled to cities in Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa for youth group mission trips with her church. She has worked as a lifeguard at swimming pools in both Plattsmouth and Beaver Lake and is certified in both first aid and CPR.
Riley Fitzpatrick will wear the title of Miss Plattsmouth at this year’s contest. She is the daughter of Travis Fitzpatrick and Teresa Fitzpatrick and stepdaughter of Chris Gee. She is a 2019 graduate of Plattsmouth High School and will study nursing in college. She is planning to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for two years and the University of Nebraska Medical Center for two years.
Riley was an Honor Roll student at Plattsmouth and was inducted into National Honor Society. She served as Student Council secretary and was vice president of the senior class at PHS.
Riley participated in many activities during her high school career. These included Student Council, show choir, varsity choir, Bella Voce select women’s vocal ensemble, Destination Imagination, Educators Rising, cheerleading and fall play production. She has also participated in soccer, basketball, softball, volleyball, track and field and swim team in either school or community settings.
Riley collected more than $5,000 for flood victims this past spring with an Adopt-a-Box fund-raising campaign. The National American Legion Auxiliary presented her with a National Good Deed Award for her efforts. She interned at the Cass County Sheriff’s Office during her senior year and has worked as a nanny for local families for the past three summers.
Miss Weeping Water
Taylor Essary will represent Weeping Water in the county fair pageant. She is the daughter of Jeremy Essary and Pam Hensley and is a 2019 graduate of Weeping Water High School. She is planning to attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha and major in nursing.
Taylor was an Honor Roll student at Weeping Water and earned many academic awards. She participated in both band and choir at WWHS and lettered in both activities. She took part in both the fall one-act play and spring musical, and she traveled to Branson, Mo., with the band for a concert in front of more than 1,000 people.
Taylor lettered with the Cass County Central softball team and was a student manager for both the wrestling and track and field programs. She also participated in basketball while at Weeping Water.
Taylor wore a Red Cross Honor Cord at her graduation ceremony for her work helping with blood drives in the Cass County area. She volunteered for the Red Cross this past spring to help with flood relief efforts. She packaged and loaded many different items for the relief organization in both April and May.