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August 26th, 2019

elly 2018 cinco de mayo queen pageant2017 Cinco de Mayo Queen Haley Lujan prepares to give the crown to eventual 2018 Cinco de Mayo Queen Amy Zeledon during last year’s pageant. This year’s pageant is currently seeking contestants. L&T file photo/Elly GrimmELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times


Cinco de Mayo may still be a few months away, but preparations are already under way for this year’s celebration in Liberal, with one of the main events being the Cinco de Mayo Queen pageant. 

This year’s pageant will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 4 in the Jim Maskus Auditorium at Liberal High School, and contestants are currently being sought for this year’s festivities. 

“The Cinco de Mayo Queen pageant helps inspire the lives of young women to promote their heritage and take pride in their culture, so I do want to emphasize this pageant is open not just to the Hispanic community, it's open to people of all nationalities, it's open to everyone who meets the criteria,” coordinator Janeth Vazquez said. “We encourage our contestants to gain self-confidence and emphasize their grace, poise and intelligence while also providing leadership opportunities. There are a lot of benefits to entering this pageant, with the biggest one being self-love – you learn to love yourself and you also explore the different potentials you have in life and this helps you gain some resources to make those talents better.”

The deadline for entering the Cinco de Mayo Queen pageant is April 1, and to qualify, contestants must be between 16 to 26 years old, must be single and never married, must not have conceived a child, and must not have been convicted of a felony. Applications are currently available at the Liberal Chamber of Commerce office, Liberal High School, and Seward County Community College. The participants will be required to attend certain seminars to help prepare them for different parts of the pageant, including how to walk,  hair and makeup and preparing the girls for the opening act since there will be a unique opening for this year. Vazquez said coordinators are still working on finalizing the dates for those seminars, but will release them in the near future.

“My favorite part is seeing that transition from the first time they walk in the door to when they go onstage the day of the pageant,” Vazquez said. “They've improved on their communication skills, they're much more open and confident and they definitely seem more like they know what they're capable of accomplishing. They have goals, but there's always just that small nugget of self-doubt but at the end of the pageant they have more confidence in their plans of how they want to accomplish their goals, and it really helps the girls come out of their shell and be more active. It gives the girls another activity to do around here. For teenagers and young people I feel like there's not a whole lot for them to do in this area, so this is something for them to do and they also gain a lot of skills. It doesn't help with just their confidence, it also helps with their networking skills. When I did the pageant I met a lot of people and I got a lot of scholarships and job opportunities just from competing in the pageant and I know if I need a reference or something like that, they'll be able to help me. It's lifelong relationships and for the girls, it's great for those people to see you as you grow professionally from being in a pageant like this to being a professional in the workforce and those changes seen.”

Vazquez added she is looking to see more diversity with this year’s competition. 

“This year I'm really hoping to see more diversity. In the past we've seen the majority of our contestants come from the Hispanic community but I would really like to see people from all different backgrounds and nationalities, so not just people from Liberal but from Southwest Kansas,” Vazquez said. “I'd like to see young women in the area compete in this pageant. One of the areas the judges score on is the culture costume and I think it would be neat to have more diversity in that part of the competition. I'm looking forward to more diversity and to hopefully recruit more girls from more backgrounds and different communities in the Southwest Kansas area, I know there's a lot of potential. I think there's a bit of a misconception that this pageant is for Hispanic girls from Liberal only, but that is not true at all, it's open to girls from all backgrounds in the ages set, and girls from surrounding communities can participate too.”

Overall, Vazquez said, she is excited to see how this year’s competition turns out. 

“The four categories are the introduction, the culture costume, the evening gown and the interview. I've had a lot of people also ask me if we're going to be affiliated with Miss Kansas, but that's a discussion that's ongoing of how that could work since our pageant and the Miss Kansas pageant are so close together time-wise. It's something that could happen, but that's still being discussed,” Vazquez said. “For those seriously considering entering, I would say to contact our Cinco de Mayo Queen Amy Zeledon, she's been great and can give a great one-on-one about being the Cinco de Mayo Queen and can give some guidance as to what the title entails and things like that. They can also find us on Facebook under ‘Liberal Cinco de Mayo 2019’ or they can come to the college. It also gives the girls a chance to build friendships with the other contestants, which is great. The girls who entered last year, I've seen them hanging out around the college here and there's that bond.”

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