When 15-year-old Kaitlyn Opland of Mindoro heard the judges call her name during the 2017 Miss Mindoro coronation ceremony last weekend, she had to fight back a wave of emotion that threatened to overwhelm her.
Ever since Opland tried out for the Little Miss Mindoro Pageant as a child, the farm girl from Farmington dreamed of one day wearing the crown.
“When I won I was just so happy,” Opland said. “I wanted to represent my community a little bit more.”
After years of waiting, essays, letters and interviews she got her chance.
“The girls are required to submit an essay about themselves and a letter of reference,” pageant organizer Lara Hines said.
From those essays, the best candidates are given an interview. From there, the judges make a final decision.
Born and raised in Mindoro, Opland, grew up on her parent’s century farm milking calves and raising beef cattle for the State Fair.
“Rock View Farm, since 1892,” she proclaimed proudly. “My family’s been here since the beginning.”
A member of the Melrose Mindoro FFA, the president of the Browns Valley 4-H club and an active participant on both the Mel-Min Basketball and Softball teams, Opland is well known in the small farming community.
She hopes to use that to her advantage as Miss Mindoro this year as she travels to parades and community events throughout the Coulee Region.
Hines said the girls will participate in 10 parades, a number of community dinners, the annual breakfast with Santa Claus and an Easter egg hunt in which more than 1,000 eggs are hidden.
“We try to get them involved in the community as much as possible,” she said.
Aiding Opland in her endeavors is her first attendant, Katie Hoeth, Second attendant and Miss Congeniality Lauren Kross and third attendant Katie Peterson.
“We’re going to try to make the community better than it already was,” Opland said.