Miss Herbstfest contestants calm nerves with laughter

Photos by Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Paige Kendall, 17, of Huntingburg, is crowned 2019 Miss Herbstfest by 2018 Miss Herbstfest Chaney Barrett, 17, of Huntingburg, during the Miss Herbstfest Queen Pageant at Southridge High School in Huntingburg on Sunday.


HUNTINGBURG — As Paige Kendall was crowned 2019 Miss Herbstfest Sunday evening, she sort of had a wardrobe malfunction.

The tiara would not stay on her head.

Paige’s chuckles blended with the laughter that filled Southridge High School’s auditorium as Miss Herbstfest 2018 Chaney Barrett tried several times to get the tiara to stay in her hair. But the braid in Paige’s hair kept the tiara from slipping in between the strands of her hair. So as soon as the tiara was on and Paige stood upright, the tiara slipped off.

“It’s not gonna stay,” Paige said through her laughter.

The tiara did not damper Paige’s mood. She was thrilled and honored to receive the crown, which eventually was secured in her hair.

“I’m so excited,” she said after the pageant. “Everything has been so nerve-racking coming up to this. I was shaking so much up here.”

Paige is the daughter of Scott and Kim Kendall of Huntingburg. The 17-year-old is a senior at Southridge High School and is active at her school and in the community. She was the first runner-up in the 2019 Miss Holland Fest pageant. Paige plans to study communications and political science at the University of Indianapolis and hopes to be a Christian speaker and mayor of Huntingburg in the future.

LaKiesha Jo Wampler, left, and 2018 Miss Herbstfest Queen Chaney Barrett, 17, both of Huntingburg, do a hand shake while waiting for results during the 2019 Miss Herbstfest Queen Pageant at Southridge High School in Huntingburg on Sunday.

Paige’s court includes first runner-up Anna Kappner, second runner-up LaKiesha Jo Wampler and Miss Photogenic Keysha Kieser.

Anna, 17, is a senior at Southridge High School and plans to attend Indiana University to study biology. Her parents are Joe and Stacy Kappner of Huntingburg.

LaKiesha Jo, 18, is a senior at Southridge High School. She plans to attend the University of Southern Indiana to study secondary education. LaKiesha Jo is the daughter of Brian and Melissa Wampler of Huntingburg.

Keysha, 18, is the daughter of Mike and Carol Vailes of Huntingburg. She is a 2019 graduate of Southridge High School and will be attending Ivy Tech.

The other Miss Herbstfest contestants are Louisa Nino and Joscelyn Blanchard, both of Huntingburg.

Paige wasn’t planning on celebrating her crowning Sunday night. Homework duty was calling her instead.

“I have a bunch of notecards to do for advanced comp class,” she said, “so I’ll probably go do that.”

Contestants wait backstage before competing in the 2019 Miss Herbstfest Queen Pageant at Southridge High School in Huntingburg on Sunday.

Pre-Teen Miss Herbstfest

“When I heard everyone else got a sash besides me, I had two thoughts,” 12-year-old Kara Schmitt said, “either I’m not going to get a sash, or I’m going to get queen. So my legs started shaking.”

The latter came true as she was crowned 2019 Pre-Teen Miss Herbstfest by 2018 Pre-Teen Miss Annika Beard.

“That’s why I did a little jump when I won,” Kara said, smiling, “I was like, ‘Eee!’”

A seventh-grader at Southridge Middle School, Kara is the daughter of Chris and Sarah Schmitt of Holland. Her dreams of entering pageants started very early.

“It all started when I was little, like 3 years old,” she said. “I was like, ‘Mommy, I want a tiara.’ So she entered me into pageants. I won a few, so then it became like a thing I liked to do.”

She has competed in Holland’s pageants several times. And as a fifth-grader she was first runner-up in the Junior Miss Herbstfest pageant. Last year she competed in the pre-teen pageant and earned first runner-up and Miss Photogenic.

2019 Miss Herbstfest Queen Paige Kendall, 17, of Huntingburg, and 2019 Pre-Teen Miss Herbstfest Queen Kara Schmitt, 12, of Holland, smile for a portrait after the 2019 Miss Herbstfest Queen Pageant at Southridge High School in Huntingburg on Sunday.

Kara’s court includes first runner-up Jaylynn Goodwin, second runner-up Heather Schoenbachler and Miss Photogenic Janelle Hill.

Jaylynn, 11, is a sixth-grader at Southridge Middle School and the daughter of Mark and Lynn Goodwin of Holland.

Heather, 13, is the daughter of A.J. and Sandy Kempf of Huntingburg and the late Jeff Schoenbachler; she is an eighth-grader at Southridge Middle School.

Janelle, 11, is the daughter of Josh and Jody Hill of Huntingburg and is a fifth-grader at Huntingburg Elementary School.

Both courts will be at different activities during the Herbstfest, which will start Thursday evening and conclude with the annual parade Sunday afternoon. The majority of the festival’s events will be held Thursday through Saturday at Huntingburg City Park.

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