Crookston had a significant presence at scholarship pageant.

Michelle Stahlecker was named first runner-up at the inaugural Miss Grand Cities Scholarship Pageant, held Saturday evening, Nov. 24, at the Empire Arts Center in Grand Forks. The Miss Grand Forks Scholarship Organization hosted the event, which included three separate pageants that also crowned the 2013 Miss Grand Forks and Miss Empire. As a Miss America-affiliated scholarship pageant, the three titleholders are eligible to compete in their state pageants in June, the winner of which advances to the Miss America pageant.

Half of the eight Miss Grand Cities contestants – Stahlecker, Whitney Schmidt, Cyrina Ostgaard and McKaela Larson – hail from Crookston, as well as Pageant Director Caroline Brost and several others involved with the volunteer organization, including Kristie Jacobsen-Jerde, Jodi Ramberg as the auditor and Tim Menard as one of five judges. Other judges were Ben Klipfel, Autumn Graber, Katherine Majkrzak and Stephanie Goetz.

Stahlecker, a former Miss Crookston and Miss Thief River Falls who participated in the 2012 Miss Minnesota Pageant, also won the Miracle Maker award for raising the most funds, $665, for the Miss America Organization's national platform, Children's Miracle Network. The money raised by the Grand Forks contestants will go to Sanford Children’s Hospital in Fargo, which is the closest qualifying children’s hospital.

Paige Meyer of Perham, another state pageant veteran, was crowned Miss Grand Cities and is now eligible to compete in next year's Miss Minnesota pageant. Laura Harmon of Grand Forks is the new Miss Grand Forks, with Cara Mund of Bismarck winning the Miss Empire title, making them eligible to advance to the Miss North Dakota competition. High score awards were given to one contestant per category out of the whole group of 20 contestants: Harmon received both the evening gown (sponsor: Tres Chic Bridal, Formal Wear & Professional Styling) and talent (sponsor: Wild Hog Smokehouse Bar & Grill) awards. Megan Yahna of Larimore, N.D. won the swimsuit award (sponsor: Anytime Fitness) and Mund was the interview award (sponsor: CK Shoppe) recipient. Other award winners were Abigail Mattson of Grand Forks, who was voted Miss Congeniality, and Chandler Kallock of East Grand Forks, who garnered the most online votes for the Z94.7 People’s Choice Award.