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Miss Utah pageant kicks off with lifestyle and fitness, talent awards

Fifty contestants took the stage Wednesday night at Capitol Theatre, kicking off three days of preliminary competition in the battle to claim the title of Miss Utah 2016 on Saturday.

The 50 title holders, gathered together from communities and counties all across the state, spent the evening competing in the categories of lifestyle and fitness, talent, on-stage question and evening wear. Each contestant also had a private interview with the judges prior to the night’s competition.

Miss Greater Salt Lake Natalie Barker took home the preliminary award in the lifestyle and fitness category. Barker, a Salt Lake Community College freshman studying special education, will get $100 for this award.

And the 2016 Miss Utah pageant is LIVE! #missutah2016

Posted by Miss Utah Organization on Wednesday, June 15, 2016

"I’m so excited, I worked so hard and this was one of my goals this week and I’m so happy that I accomplished it," said Barker. "It really came down to clean eating and choosing to eat eggs instead of Eggo waffles."

Barker's platform is, "Everyone has a Place.”

Miss Orem, Jessica Craig, won the preliminary award for her talent number. She played "The Flight of the Black-eyed Bee" on violin.

"I wanted to play something unique and original so that's why I mashed 'Flight of the Bumble Bee' and The Black Eyed Peas song together… It felt so good because it took a lot of hard work and to finally showcase what I've been working so long on felt amazing," said Craig.

Craig, a University of Utah senior studying English with honors, will get $100 for this award. Her platform is "Building Youths' SELF Esteems."

The Farmington pageant was honored with the local pageant Miracle Maker award, which goes to the Utah pageant that raises the most money for the Children’s Miracle Network.

The Miss Farmington Pageant raised $3,700. For this, they were awarded with a trophy and two tickets to a farewell breakfast Saturday with Krissia Beatty, Miss Utah 2015.

The Children’s Miracle Network is one of the Miss America Organization’s national platforms, and each contestant, from the local to the national level, works to raise funds for the organization.

Miss Utah County Lizzy Palmatier was honored for selling the most ads for this year’s Miss Utah program booklet.

The evening’s pageant was hosted by Jill Stevens Shepherd, Miss Utah 2007. And, as with any pageant involving the Army National Guard medic, the night included push ups.

The second night of the preliminary competition begins Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Capitol theater.

The Miss Utah pageant is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

Article author Jackie Hicken is on the board of the Miss Utah Organization.