Shanks and Roberts represent Wyoming on the national beauty pageant stage
• “It felt like a dream.”
Two Star Valley women represented Wyoming in the Miss America and Mrs. America pageants respectively held at the Westgate Resort in Las Vegas this last week. Mrs. Rebecca Shanks competed as Mrs. Wyoming and Miss Adelaide Roberts competed as Miss Wyoming. Roberts walked away with the honor of being voted Miss Congeniality by her 45 peers.
In such an iconic setting, where legends and history were made, Roberts initially felt uncertain. “When I first got there, it was so hard not to compare myself to the other queens, but I realized that God had gotten me this far, so I decided to embrace who I am and just allow myself to be authentic in my Western Wyoming heritage. I felt so much more confident! I was able to enjoy it so much more and I was honored as Miss Congeniality. There were queens from 45 states competing, and I made friends with so many sweet people.”
Though she enjoyed many opportunities to connect with people, one memory is dear to her heart. “I was backstage when one of the other queens approached me and said she didn’t want to frighten me, but wanted to tell me that my eyes reminded her of a dear friend who had passed away when she was 15. She had often been told that this friend was her guardian angel, and there I was to remind her of her friend’s presence and support. It was an opportunity for me to remember that the Lord knows us and he helps us to be where we need to be, doing what we need to do.”
Shanks kicked off her experience with a documentary film crew meeting her at the luggage carousel in the Las Vegas Airport, and following her all the way out, “which was different and unexpected, but a lot of fun.” She loved her interview experience, as it gave her an opportunity to share her very unique personal qualities that define her as a woman, which is more deeply meaningful to her than the qualities that qualify her as a beauty queen.
She thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to share the stage with so many inspiring women, and to connect with a few on a very personal level. Representing Wyoming was a treat in the portion of the competition where contestants dress in a costume that represents their home state in a very definitive way. Shanks chose to dress as an Elk Hunter, representing the very diverse outdoor activities offered on Wyoming lands.
Now that she’s home, it all seems so surreal. “It was like a dream. I’ll be honest in saying I didn’t realize how much I was dreaming of winning a title or winning a place in the top 15 until I didn’t, and I was just so sad, but I loved every minute of it. I walked away knowing that I was very authentic to who I am. I feel really good about how I represented the state. I do wish I had placed, but I learned so much that I can’t be upset about the outcome for myself. Grateful doesn’t quite cover how I feel. It was an amazing journey and I’m going to keep working with different organizations within the state to fight food insecurity and share how we can utilize our public land to do so. That is my platform – Relieve Food Insecurity Through Public Land Access and Utilization. I would love to have more opportunities to share more about that.”
Both women expressed deep gratitude for the immense support they felt from businesses and private individuals who made their journey financially and logistically possible. They both felt the entire community and state behind them, carrying them through the experience. “There are so many people who wanted to help. It was so humbling.”
Shanks encourages any woman interested to take the leap of faith and make the pageant journey. “If there is anyone who is considering this crazy journey, it is 100% worth it. More than 100%. I just feel like this has been a huge blessing for me and my family. I feel so much closer to my community and the state now. Star Valley is a special place and Wyoming is a special place. It’s a blessing to live here and I feel very fortunate.”