Miss City of Fountains Erin O'Flaherty was crowned Miss Missouri 2016 Saturday night much to her surprise. “I am totally in disbelief. I was really not expecting this. “I am so excited. I can't believe I'm going to Miss America,” O'Flaherty said.
This is the first time she has competed on the Miss Missouri stage. The 23-year-old competed in Florida, while attending school there.
O'Flaherty said being in the pageant system has changed her life. “It means so much to me. “It has changed my life with the scholarships opportunities.” She said it also lets her promote her platform Suicide Prevention – We are All Responsible. “And I have made lifelong friends.”
Her platform is very personal to her. “In high school my best friend committed suicide,” she said. She said she realized later if she had known more about suicide, there might have been something she could have done to prevent her friend from taking her own life. She is also active with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
O'Flaherty's talent was a vocal to “The Mad Hatter.” “I wanted something that was interesting,” she said. She chose the song after she heard it on the Broadway Station. “I found out later that Kate Shindle, a past Miss America sang it, and knew that was by song.”
O'Flaherty is a graduate of the University of Central Florida where she majored in Legal Studies. Since then she has been working in a family boutique in Chesterfied. She wants to use her scholarship money toward her student loans. After her year of Miss Missouri she plans to pursue a MBA degree.
O'Flaherty who lives in the St. Louis area is the daughter of Christian and Leslie Barnes-Young.
The new Miss Missouri had this advice for young girls who want to or have entered the pageant system. “Go in with an open mind, initially have fun and learn about yourself.”
This will be a year of appearances for O'Faherty, starting Monday where she had her first fundraiser, a golf tournament in Columbia, for the Children's Miracle Network.
As Miss Missouri O'Flaherty will received a $11,500 scholarship, official crown, crown pin, flowers, wardrobe, fur vest, jewelry accessories.
First runner-up was Miss Audrain Jennifer Davis, who was a hometown favorite. She was awarded the Laurann Webber Memorial Scholarship for $5,500. For her talent, Davis delighted the audience with a Bollywood dance to “Nagada San Dhol.” Second runner-up was Miss Metro St. Louis Katie Moeller, who played “Gypsy Dance” on the violin for her talent. She received a $4,500 scholarship. Third runner-up went to Miss Gateway St. Louis Brittney Sears, who sang “California Dreamin'''. She received a $3,500 from the Miss Missouri Sisterhood Third Runner-Up Scholarship. Fourth runner-up was Miss Northwest Mikaela Carson, who sang “Tomorrow,” for her talent. She received a $2,500 scholarship.
The remaining top 11finalists were Miss Southern Missouri Kristen McDowell, who was a crowd favorite with her tap dance “U Can't Touch This;” Miss Maryville Ali Skinner, who sang “Something's Got A Hold on Me;” Miss Springfield Samantha Bowers, who played “Great Balls of Fire” on the piano; River City Debrielle Patee-Merrill, who performed a lyrical dance to “Human;” Miss Queen City Olivia Henson who sang “Somebody To Love;” and Miss Spirit of St. Louis Riley Bradley who performed a tap dance to “How Sweet It Is.”
Former Miss Missouri titleholders recognized were Miss Missouri 1987 Robin Riley Martin, Miss Missouri 1995 Erin Phillips Engelmeyer, Miss Missouri 2001 Jennifer Hover White, Miss Missouri 2005 Stacie Cooley Harken Miss Missouri 2008 LaceyFitzgerald Witt and Miss Missouri 2010 Ericka Hebron.
Miss Missouri 2015 McKensie Garber was surprised by the residents of her hometown Hale, as a representative from her MoDot presented her with one of two signs to be placed in the town she grew up in. Printed on the road signs was the following, “Hometown of Miss Missouri 2015 and Outstanding Teen 2011 McKensie Garber.” Garber said the town of 419 people was a great place to grow up. As for the signs she was overwhelmed. “I had no idea,” she said in reference to the signs. “This is amazing,” she said.
The awards for the swimsuit competition of the Miss Missouri pageant were handed out Friday, with Miss Queen City Olivia Henson taking the prize for the Mu group, and Miss Metro St. Louis Katie Moeller winning in the Omega group.
Asked if the swimsuit portion of the pageant is more nerve-wracking than other aspects, both contestants agreed that it was actually the easiest. “The evening wear is scarier. At least with the swimsuits, you're not trying to walk in big heels or dresses onstage,” Moeller said.
Moeller added that the swimsuit portion encourages young women to be confident about their appearance.