Kaylie Sparks is Miss Destin 2021, "a dream come true"
After finishing as first runner-up last year, Kaylie Anne Sparks got to wear the crown and sash Saturday night after she was chosen to serve as Miss Destin 2021.
It took the judges 40 minutes of deliberation to choose from the eight young ladies vying for the crown at Shoreline Church on Saturday night.
“It just goes to show what an incredible group of girls we had running for Miss Destin this year that it took the judges so long to make a decision,” said Helen Donaldson, executive director of the Destin Fishing Rodeo.
Miss Destin’s primary duty is to serve during the month-long October Destin Fishing Rodeo as well as an ambassador for the city throughout the year.
“I feel like I have dreamed of this after seeing the first Miss Destin. It’s always been a dream,” Sparks said just moments after being crowned Saturday night.
“When I found out I was going to be staying here another year, it was a no-brainer to try out again,” Sparks said.
Sparks, a senior at Niceville High School, plans to attend Northwest Florida State College next year and then later transfer to the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Sparks ran for Miss Destin in 2020 and finished as first runner-up to Lauren Adams.
“It’s unreal, I'm in shock right now,” Sparks said as friends and family were snapping photos left and right of the newly crowned Miss Destin.
“I don't feel like it’s real. Honestly, I’m so happy and thankful for this entire program. I’m just really excited,” she said, as she couldn’t stop smiling.
Sparks wasn’t the only one in her family wearing a big smile, her parents Houston and Anne Sparks were smiling ear to ear.
“I’m going to have to give her yardwork tomorrow just to bring her back down to earth,” Houston joked, while people continued to take photos of the newly crowned Miss Destin.
“She has wanted to do this for so long, ever since she was a little girl. And she had such a good experience last year. It was just a no-brainer for her to do it again this year,” Houston said. “All the girls have been great.”
“I could not be happier, she is going to be the most amazing Miss Destin,” said Anne.
“She is such a wonderful young lady, a Christian. She is going to be amazing. I love it,” said her proud mother.
As Miss Destin, Sparks received a $4,000 scholarship courtesy of the city of Destin, Destin Charter Boat Association, Destin Chamber of Commerce, the family of Nancy Cheney and Larry Hatchett Fishing Foundation.
First runner-up Kathryn Ballard. She received a $1,000 scholarship known as the Bonnie Orr Memorial Award. Ballard also was the recipient of the Nancy Cheney Congeniality Award and a $200 cash award from the family of Nancy Cheney.
Second runner-up went to Kasidy Braden. She received a $750 scholarship. Braden also was selected as Miss Photogenic and the recipient of $200 from Guy’s Glass and Mirror.
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Winner of the Peyton LoCicero Humanitarian Award was Bella Wasson. She received $200 from Frill Seekers Gifts.
Every girl who participated in the pageant received a $50 Rodeo Heritage Award, sponsored by the charter boat Lady Em and Capt. Mike Eller and a $25 Miss Destin Community award from Emerald Coast Rental Management.
During the pageant Saturday night, the girls participated in a fashion show, as well as a group dance, before the formal gown presentation.
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After the gown presentation, each contestant had to answer a mystery question. The questions were drawn at random and asked by master of ceremonies Christian Garman. The questions ranged from, “What was your favorite Halloween costume and why?” to “Who was your favorite teacher” to “If you were stranded on an island, what three things would you take with you?”
Before the pageant, the girls participated in a harbor boat cruise, a soda party at the Destin History and Fishing Museum and a judge's tea.