Heidi Bunch photos /MCIN
Miss Armed Forces Day Cheyenne Walker and Miss Jr. Armed Forces Day Faith Garcia surrounded by their fellow contestants after the competition at the Hawthorne Convention Center Saturday night.

The start of the Armed Forces Day celebration always begins with the crowing of Miss Armed Forces Day but getting ready for the stage starts a month ahead of time for Mineral County ladies.

Only one lady tried out for Miss Armed Forces Day this year. Unfortunately for Cheyenne Walker, the coaches for this event didn’t give her a shoe-in. Instead, Walker came to practice each day, ready to work and ready to mentor the smaller girls that look up to her. She was crowned by last year’s, Miss Armed Forces Day Alisia Palecios.

The pageant coaches decided this year to add a new category, Mini Miss Armed Forces Day. This contest allows for the smaller girls to get the taste of the pageant scene. By working together as a group and shining as an individual. The small girls with their toothless grins and ball gowns had many people smiling and laughing during their question and answer period of the competition. Jeaulani Mize would be named the first Mini Miss Armed Forces Day being crowned by Miss Nevada Bailey Gumm.

To the beat of “Ice, Ice Baby”, the Jr. Miss Armed Forces Day contestants opened their period of the show. Much attitude and personality was shown while the girls danced for the judges and their family.

After the dance portion of the competition, the ladies filled the stage with formal wear, ready to answer the question that emcee Ann Kee threw out at them. The questions asked were mature in nature. Everything from “What can local officials due to help the youth of Mineral County” to “Who is your hero”. Each girl had a clear, concise answer that had much thought put into it and it was easy to see the hard work that each brought to the stage.

The crowning of Jr. Miss Armed Forces Day would be done by last year’s winner, Shaylee Gavin. Gavin crowed Faith Garcia, the 2017 Miss Jr. Armed Forces Day.

The coaches of this year’s competition should be applauded. Alicia Dalton, Felicia Skvarna and Tina Nelms worked hard with the ladies, not only for the competition part of the pageant, but also the sportsmanship between the girls after the announcement of a winner was made.

Walking by with her carnation, one sparkly little girl in a blue dress said, “I want to do this again next year!”