With no prior pageant experience, Zionsville resident Jacqueline Pratt did not expect to win the title of Miss Boone County on July 8, 2023. But to her pleasant surprise, she walked away with the crown.
“It was shocking,” Pratt said. “I didn’t think I was going to win at all. I would have been perfectly happy not winning because I just wanted to do the best I could.”
Pratt, 20, continued her duties as Miss Boone County throughout the weekend of Jan. 5 through Jan. 7 of this year, when she competed in the Miss Indiana State Fair queen contest.
“Even though I didn’t do as well as I had hoped at the Indiana State Fair Pageant, I am still really proud of how hard I worked,” she said. “The placement is top 16, top 10 and then three members of the court, and I did not make top 16.”
A University High School graduate, she was encouraged by her friend, Anastasia Reinholt, to enter the Miss Boone County competition. Reinholt was the 2022 Miss Boone County winner.
“Anastasia reached out to me and told me I should look into the pageant,” Pratt said. “She explained that it was less of a pageant and more of an opportunity to have a leadership position around the community. I decided to do it for fun to work on my interview skills and public speaking.”
Pratt, a sophomore at the University of Mississippi studying biology, worked with Reinholt, Miss Boone County Queens program directors Abby Emmert-Worrell and Kate Emmert, and the pageant committee before the Miss Boone County contest.
“We went over how you’re supposed to walk on stage, how to do your makeup and what the interviews would look like, and everyone gave the contestants tips,” Pratt said. “We all got to know each other pretty well through that.”
Pratt also practiced with her mom, Jennifer Pratt, who was crowned Miss Shorewood in 1988 in Shorewood, Ill.
“My mom and I would come and practice on the stage,” Pratt said. “I also spent a lot of time picking out my outfits and reviewing interview questions. I looked at the experience I’ve had in terms of clubs, leadership positions, internships and work experiences for the interview.”
Pratt said her favorite part about being Miss Boone County has been meeting other contestants and learning about surrounding counties, such as Hamilton and Wabash.
“It was cool to hear about the different fairs,” Pratt said. “Different towns each have unique experiences. Along the way, I probably made about 90 new best friends. It also allowed me to work on my interview skills and public speaking, which has been beneficial for scholarships and work interviews. I can speak much more confidently now.”
Although Pratt lives in Mississippi during the school year, she has traveled home many times to fulfill her duties as Miss Boone County. Aside from a few appearances and speeches at fairs last summer, she has enjoyed having a say in her decisions.
“I spoke at the Boone County Fair and did introductions, and I also helped with the Homemaker’s Baked Good auction,” Pratt said. “After that, it was mostly up to me.”
Pratt reached out to the Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Library for volunteer opportunities, and volunteered by reading to children, coloring paper crowns and helping pick out books.
She also worked with the Zionsville Chamber of Commerce and Duo Boutique Zionsville to hold a bake sale to raise money for a scholarship for the court and queen.
“We did one day for about four hours, and we raised $500,” Pratt said. “I plan to do another fundraiser and put that money toward the court and the bake sale money toward the queen.”
Pratt, who has been actively involved in 4-H throughout her life, also visited Boone County 4-H clubs Jan. 8 to meet members and learn what projects they are interested in.
Although her role has been rewarding, Pratt said she has faced a few challenges, especially being away from home.
“It’s been hard because I have had to travel home a few times, but I think it has made me more favoring of Boone County,” Pratt said. “I normally have stuff going on every day when I am home, so it has been hard to keep up with it all and stay involved. It has made me realize how much I love it here and has been a good reminder of how much I love home.”
Pratt’s advice to anyone who wants to compete in the Miss Boone County pageant is to make sure they do it for the right reasons.
“I would say if you want to participate, don’t do it because it is a pageant or you get a crown, but rather because it gets you involved and aware of things happening in your community,” Pratt
said. “It has taught me where scholarships or volunteers are needed. I looked at it as a way for me to ultimately better myself and get closer to my community, no matter if I had won or not.”
THE PRATT FILE
Name: Jacqueline Pratt
College: University of Mississippi
Career goals: “I hope to attend a (physician assistant) school but if I don’t decide to go to medical school, I want to use my interest in medicine and experience with business to work for Intuitive, which sells surgical robots.”
Hobbies: “I am in a sorority at my college, so I spend a lot of time volunteering at local elementary schools. I used to spend a lot of time riding horses before college. I also love reading, shopping and cooking.”
Favorite place in Zionsville: Traders Point Creamery
Words to live by: “Live in the now. Take everything good and bad and accept it for what it is.”