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Anticipation builds for crowning of 2017 Miss Utah

Anticipation builds for crowning of 2017 Miss Utah. (Photo: Miss Utah)

(KUTV) The 50 contestants vying for the job of Miss Utah have been competing all week in Preliminary Competitions.

Through the Miss America Judging System, contestants compete in Interview (25%), On-Stage Question (5%), Talent (35%), Evening Wear (20%) and Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear (15%).

"I just love the Miss America Organization because it helps women achieve their dreams and achieve their full potential,” Meganne Ferrel, Miss South Jordan told 2News. “I am so grateful for the scholarships I have received through this program.”

Ferrel took the MCAT in May.

"I will be sending in my applications to medical school next week and receive my MCAT scores on the 20th of this month,” Ferrel said. "I will be graduating from BYU completely debt free because of scholarships I earned from competing in pageants.”

Ferrel is one of three women who received the Preliminary Talent Award earlier this week.

All three Talent Award Recipients are violinists.

"I started playing when I was four years old. My mom took me to the music store and told me to pick an instrument that I wanted to play, but that I would need to stick with it my whole life,” Ferrel said.

JessiKate Riley, Miss Panoramaland and Lizzy Palmatier, Miss Nebo, also won the Talent Award.

Riley is from Beaver, UT. She told 2News she traveled one hour to her violin lessons, starting at the age of three.

“My violin's name is Sam,” Riley said with a smile. “It was such an honor to play on the Capitol Theatre stage. I have never connected with my instrument like that before. And it was amazing,”

Riley played "Praeludium and Allegro" by Kreisler.

Contestants commented that although, competing on stage is thrilling, it is the service in their communities they value most.

“I keep coming back because of the service opportunities,” Lizzy Palmatier, Miss Nebo said. “This is my third time competing on the Miss Utah stage, and I have been able to reach so many people through my service platform.”

Palmatier is a Foster Care Advocate.

"Every year we take hundreds of kids who have been separated from their siblings in Foster Care, and we reunite them in Disneyland. I have been able to be a hostess for that. It is life-changing,” Palmatier said.

Palmatier received the Sadie Huish Memorial Scholarship Award in memory of Sadie Huish, a girl that was chosen to represent Eagle Mountain in the Little Miss Utah Program but became too ill to participate. Sadie passed away on June 25, 2009. Each year, her family chooses the contestant they feel has achieved the most with their service platform. Palmatier has dedicated over 600 hours to her platform, “Helping Abused and Neglected Children Through Foster Care Advocacy.” She will receive a $1,000 scholarship for her award.

Palmatier also was chosen as the Miss America Community Service Award Recipient for her outstanding dedication to Foster Care Advocacy. She won an additional $1,000 scholarship.

Jesse Craig, Miss Greater Salt Lake and the Miss America Academic Scholarship Winner ($1,000 Scholarship) said her service platform, "Direct Service - Direct Impact", is what she values most about her experience.

"It's about getting your hands dirty through service,” Craig said. “Going into rest-homes, helping adults who have disabilities, or weeding a garden as a group project…those types of service opportunities are lacking with my generation, so it's about bringing them back and making them relevant again."

The preliminary swimsuit awards went to Madison Monson - Miss Provo, Jesse Craig - Miss Greater Salt Lake, and Shakelle Valdez - Miss Pioneer Valley. Each of the women received a $200 scholarship.

"For me, it's all about confidence," Madison Monson, Miss Provo said. "Some of the best advice I have been given is that swimsuit is won from the neck up - it's about being you, being comfortable, and having fun."

Saturday night, the Top 7 competed in the final question category. This portion accounted for 20% of their overall score. Questions ranged from the battle over land within the Bears Ears National Monument and the potential of Russia meddling in the Presidential Election.

Saturday night, Miss Utah 2017 JessiKate Riley, was crowned. She receives a $10,000 scholarship and the chance to travel the state speaking about her service platform.

Riley will also represent Utah at the Miss America Pageant in September.

Saturday night, more than $50,000 in scholarships were awarded among the 50 contestants.

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