After waiting in suspense next to the top-five contestants, Harley Emery of Lane County was “in shock” to hear her name called as Miss Oregon 2017.
“I’m so excited. I’m just so thrilled,” Emery said Saturday during the 70th annual Miss Oregon pageant. “I stood there for a second thinking, ‘Wait, what just happened?’”
Emery said she has competed in pageants for five years. She will represent Oregon at the Miss America pageant in September in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Twenty contestants competed in swimwear, talent, interview and other categories to highlight their personal successes and beliefs.
Miss Oregon 2016 Alexis Mather of Astoria crowned Emery as the new Miss Oregon.
“I’m excited for Harley, to see her grow and blossom,” Mather said.
The former Miss Oregon is excited to start her own journey in life by focusing on music, selling real estate and working toward a doctorate’s in psychology.
“You take this whole year off and put life on pause. This is the moment to press play,” she said.
Miss Clatsop County Hannah Garhofer of Seaside advanced to the top 12. She said she has participated in the Miss America organization for six years and will attend the University of Oregon this fall.
“I’ve seen so much growth in myself,” Garhofer said. “This program makes me the best version of myself.”
Garhofer also received a scholarship award for being voted the nicest contestant.
Coming into the competition, Garhofer said she wanted to leave “everything out there” and “make Clatsop County proud.”
“My end goal is to do the best I can and just be Hannah,” she said.
Kaila Tripp, Miss Southern Gem, met her goal of advancing to the second round of the competition, the top 12.
Tripp said she started pageants five years ago. “I watched Miss America as a little girl. I never thought I wouldn’t do it.”
“The end goal is to be Miss Oregon one day,” Tripp said.
Stephanie Magee of Willamette Valley said she began competing in order to play her cello and win scholarships. But Magee said she has gained much more.
“It tests your resilience,” she said. “You never walk away a loser.”
Magee said every time she and other contestants compete, they gain more qualities in which Miss Oregon embodies.
“She (Miss Oregon) is out in the community volunteering. She doesn’t put people down. She is selfless,” Magee said.
Emma Ellis of Cascade was crowned Miss Oregon’s Outstanding Teen. She will represent Oregon in August in Orlando, Florida, at the national Miss America Outstanding Teen competition.
Peyton Sims and Nicole Ramsdell represented the area as Miss Clatsop County’s Outstanding Teen and Miss North Coast’s Outstanding Teen.
Sandy Newman is the executive director of the Miss Clatsop County Scholarship Program and has been the director since 2005.
Miss Clatsop County is a preliminary to the Miss Oregon Scholarship Program and Miss America.
Newman said competing is “very valuable” as it gives the contestants opportunities to gain skills that are not necessarily taught elsewhere, such as learning to make a resume, interview and speak publicly with self-confidence.
“I cannot express the growth I have seen,” Newman said. “A complete transformation.”