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Women will compete for the title of Miss Kiwanis Balloon Fest this weekend



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Siera Updike crowns Braxton-Kennedy Hiser as Miss Kiwanis Balloon Fest in 2018. This year's Miss Kiwanis Balloon Fest Scholarship Pageant will take place at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. Courtesy Photo Buy Photos

One girl will get to live out her fairy-tale dreams and wear a ball gown and crown fit for a princess this weekend.

The Miss Kiwanis Balloon Fest Scholarship Pageant, a preliminary competition to the Miss Indiana pageant, will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Contestants from Bartholomew, Brown, Jackson, Jennings, Jefferson, Lawrence and Monroe counties will be competing for the crown and a scholarship.

“Competing in the Miss Kiwanis Balloon Fest has helped me do so many things I never thought I could accomplish,” said Braxton-Kennedy Hiser, an IU senior and the current Miss Kiwanis Balloon Fest. “This competition is amazing for those girls who want to meet more friends, create a sisterhood, gain more confidence or even learn to speak well in front of an audience.” 

The competition is presented by the Kiwanis Club of South Central Indiana. Charter President Vanessa McClary established the chapter in 2006. Kiwanis International is a web of clubs that work to improve the lives of children internationally.

The winner of the competition will serve as an ambassador for the local Kiwanis Club chapter throughout the year. She will make appearances during Kiwanis initiatives such as the Kiwanis Indiana Hot Air Balloon Fest, from which the pageant gets its name.

“We are looking for someone that serves as a positive role model to youth and represents Kiwanis through service and leadership,” McClary said. “Our goal is to celebrate these young women and their passion for their social platform made through their onstage impact statement.”

After Hiser was crowned last year, she was able to use her position as Miss Kiwanis to develop her own platform called Love Thy Neighbor, a nonprofit that provides food, water, clothes and other necessities to the less fortunate.

“It's a project I've been working on for a while now, and I wouldn't have even thought of it if it wasn't for me competing in this pageant,” Hiser said.

Hiser, who will be crowning the next Miss Kiwanis on Saturday, had some advice for the new titleholder.

“If your schedule allows you to, say yes to every opportunity that your director gives you,”  Hiser said. “Soak in every moment because the year will go by quicker than you know.”

The winner of this pageant will move on to the Miss Indiana competition where she will compete alongside other regional winners for the title.

Doors for the event will open at 6 p.m., and the competition will be about two hours long. General admission is $10, and student admission is $5 with a valid student ID. 

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