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COOS BAY — Seven young women will compete for the 2020 titles of Miss Coos County and Miss Pacific Shores on Saturday, Feb. 8.

In addition, four younger women will compete for the title of 2020 Miss Coos County Outstanding Teen and a little girl will be chosen at random to be 2020 Miss Coos County Outstanding Princess.

The pageant will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Hales Center for the Performing Arts on the Southwestern Oregon Community College campus. Tickets are $17 each and available through brownpapertickets.com and must be printed out or can be picked up at will call. Tickets should also be available at the door for $20 each, but the event has sold out the past few years so pre-sales are encouraged.

Contestants this year include, for Miss Coos County: Aly Hutchings, Courtney Jeffs, Amanda Merritt, Kylie Rocha, Bethany Rowe, Ashley Strain and Lindsey Varga; and for Miss Coos County Outstanding Teen: Karli Kennedy, Moira O'Bryan, McKinzy Kenyon and Erica Thrash. 

The Miss Coos County program, for young women ages 18-25, gives young women confidence, poise and leadership skills that help them excel in their future endeavors, according to organizers. 

Since 1981, the nonprofit program, which is an affiliate of the national Miss America Organization, has awarded dozens of ambitious young ladies around the county with scholarship funds to further their education and professional goals.

Last year, Rachel Rose Sheldon, 23, of Coos Bay took home the title of Miss Coos County 2019. The Southern Oregon University graduate with three degrees not only walked away with the crown, but also the Mary Lou Munyon Community Service Scholarship for her over 400 hours of community service, among other scholarships. 

Miss Coos County's Outstanding Teen 2019 was Sammie Huffman of Coquille and Miss Coos County's Outstanding Princess 2019 was Kallie Greene. 

Ambitious contestants are seeking higher education and see the program as a way to earn much-needed scholarships. Last year, around $40,000 was awarded, including tuition waivers to Southwestern as well as other colleges and universities, plus cash awards.

The Miss Coos County Outstanding Teen program, for young women ages 13-17, promotes academic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement.

The Miss Coos County Outstanding Princess program is for girls ages 6-10 and gives them the opportunity to be mentored by a "big sister" and learn that "little girls with dreams become women with vision." The princesses perform a dance at the competition and escort the older girls onto the stage.

Amee Springsteen is in her second year as executive director of the program. Springsteen served as Miss Coos County in 2009 and has been on the program's board of directors since 2012. The crown of Miss Pacific Shores has been added back this year, which gives contestants more opportunities to be crowned. The first Miss Pacific Shores, in 2018, was Kaila Tripp. This year's theme is Carnival, as in Rio de Janeiro-type of carnival, Springsteen said.

"We had a really spectacular year," Springsteen said. "Rose and Sammie both made top 10 at Miss Oregon, making Coos County very proud. They have spent their year doing dozens of events and appearances, and our new titleholders will have big shoes to fill."

Last year, the Miss America Organization saw an overhaul, with new leadership. With that came a change in the competition. "Miss" contestants no longer compete in the Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimwear. Instead, contestants will give a statement in regard to their social impact initiative, previously known as their platform. 

Contestants are scored from an interview with a panel of judges, their talent and poise on stage, as well as their answers to impromptu questions. The three winners will advance to the Miss Oregon and Miss Oregon Outstanding Teen scholarship pageants, held July 8-11 at the Seaside Civic & Convention Center.

World Executive Editor Amy Moss Strong can be reached at 541-266-6051, or by email at amy.moss-strong@theworldlink.com. Follow The World on Facebook.

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