SMITHTON — Overcoming fear and looking to her faith in God, a Sedalia woman was crowned the 2019 Miss Pettis County Queen Thursday afternoon, in Smithton.

Amid smiles, McKenzie Simpson, 19, received her crown from outgoing Queen Marrisa Koebel. The pageant featuring six area women kicked off the 52nd Smithton Town & Country Fair and was hosted inside the Smithton R-VI High School Gym.

Simpson also received the Best Interview Award, Best Talent Award and Best Evening Gown Award.

First runner-up was Lyla Bybee, of Smithton, and Emily Gregory, of Houstonia, received second runner-up. Bybee also received the Miss Congeniality Award. Also competing were Marrisa Cornine, of Houstonia, Shelbi Miller, of Smithton, and Alicia Eldred, of Sedalia.  

Simpson, the daughter of Kevin and Melissa Simpson, of Sedalia, is a sophomore at State Fair Community College. She is majoring in dental hygiene with future plans to attend the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

After being crowned, Simpson spoke with the Democrat about why she decided to run for the title.

“I ran for Miss Pettis County to get … good experience with the public while I pursue my degree in international studies,” she said.

She noted that she didn’t come from a “strong-based” agricultural family but added that she learned much while attending school at Pettis County R-V School District in Hughesville.

“That’s a very strong-based agricultural community,” Simpson said. “I learned a lot being at Hughesville through just all the different programs they had over there.”

She said what she hopes to accomplish with her reign is to “grow closer to the community.”

“I love people, I always have,” she added. “I’m very excited to get to know the community and to volunteer my time. I’m just very excited, very excited.”

Simpson’s mother Melissa said her daughter wasn’t really worried about winning the pageant, because she had a deeper reason for entering.

“She wanted to be in it of course,” Melissa Simpson said. “But, her biggest goal in all of this was this was the first time she’s ever sang in front of anyone. And, this was to beat the spirit of fear.

“She just wanted to prove to herself that she could do anything with God,” she continued. “She just put her faith in Him and did what she needed to do.”

Melissa Simpson said her daughter told her she was tired of dealing with the fear of being in front of others.

“She said, ‘I can sing and I just want to start living my life instead of being stranded by fear,’” she said. “It was all about getting rid of fear. And, she loves people, she’s a people person.”

For the talent portion of the pageant, Simpson sang the hymn “How Great Thou Art.”

Simpson’s bio states she dreams of joining a medical missionary team where she can volunteer her skills “to help improve the health of the poor in the U.S. and worldwide.”

Emily Gerke, who co-directs the pageant with Kandas Kroeger, said this year’s contest shaped up well.

“This year we decided to bump up the pageant to 2 (p.m.)” she noted. “So, that way it would be done before the parade.

“It’s a really good group of girls this year,” she continued. “This is an agricultural-based pageant because they will go on to the State Fair and they are really diverse as far as their knowledge on agriculture.”

Arts & Entertainment Reporter

Faith Bemiss is a reporter for the Sedalia Democrat, covering general assignment, arts, food and entertainment stories. She can be reached at 660-530-0289.

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