Miss California celebrates 100 year anniversary, crowns winner, at Visalia Convention Center

Miss California Teen and Miss California at the after-party celebrating the 100 year anniversary

Miss California celebrated its 100 year anniversary at the Visalia Convention Center Saturday night, June 15, by crowning Kimberly Vernon, Miss Santa Clara County as Miss California 2024.

Miss San Fernando Valley, Mikaela Harris was the first runner up.

Two contestants from the Central Valley made it into the top 12 with Miss Fresno County, Olivia Harden, receiving the People Choice award. Miss Central California, Kirstin Bangs, proceeded to make it from the top 12 into the top five and was the third runner up in the competition.

Miss Tulare County was represented by Emily Silva, Miss City of Visalia was represented by Hailey Caine and Miss Kings County was represented Abigail Salyer.

The top 12 contestants competed in four categories: talent, health, evening gown and conversation. The conversation segment of the pageant did not shy away from controversial subjects and the contestants didn’t shy away from voicing their opinions.

Harris was asked a question about gun control and said, “the right to bear arms has kept the government in check.”  Miss Marin County, Alyssa Vasquez, was asked about women’s health and said women’s reproductive health was in jeopardy and that she was firmly pro-choice.

Miss California has the honor of cutting the first piece of cake

After the crowning ceremony the Miss California Organization threw a 100 year celebration for the attendees, past Miss Californians, and the Miss California and Miss California Teen contestants.

Lisa Davenport, Miss Tulare County 1985, who went on to win Miss California and competed in that year’s Miss America was in attendance. She helped celebrate the 100 year anniversary Saturday night by traveling from her home in Atlanta, Georgia to participate in the pageant.

Visalia’s own Keira Bixler was crowned Miss California Teen at their Tuesday night pageant, June 11. Bixler was one of 24 teen contestants and performed her talent, a jazz ballet fusion, while the judges tabulated the final scores Saturday night.

Vernon and Bixler will go on to compete in the Miss America and Miss America Teen 2025 pageant.

The Miss America Organization has evolved from a bathing suit competition to the world’s largest scholarship program for women. Since establishing the scholarship program in 1945 the Miss America program has distributed more than $150 million in educational grants. Each year more than $30 million scholarships are made available to thousands of women who participate in local, state and national Miss America programs.

As a winner of Miss California, Vernon won a $20,000 scholarship. Harris as first runner up won an $8000 scholarship.

When the Miss California Organization and Fresno parted ways unexpectedly in 2023 Visalia stepped up to host the pageant. The Visalia Convention Center got a five year verbal commitment from the Miss California Organization last year, but because the current CEO was retiring, he left the signing of an official agreement to his replacements.

During the party the consensus was Miss California Organization has been thrilled with their new hosts for the last two years.

“Visalia is so much better than Fresno,” said a former judge. “The people are great and we all love being able to walk out of the hotel and enjoy down town!”

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  1. Kudos to the Miss California/Miss California Teen organization, Spirit Radio (sponsor) and the Visalia Fox Theater for having a wonderful movie event for families on Sunday, June 9th!!

    The contestants wore their evening gowns and sashes while lining both sides of the lobby, and welcomed folks as they entered. We met Miss Sierra Nevada, who was very nice.

    Attendees were encouraged to dress up in a princess constume. Our granddaughters went as Cinderella and Rapunzel.

    After everyone was seated, the contestants were introduced at the stage and then, as they passed us by walking up our aisle, almost all of them high fived our granddaughters!! These two kids were just thrilled!!

    Then they showed the movie, The Princess Diaries, which our own girls loved as kids. Our 8 year-old granddaughter loved the movie, but the 4 year old wore out and her Mom picked her up halfway through.

    After the movie, Miss California Teen 2023 was on stage and everyone was invited to line up and take a turn on stage to have their photo taken with her. She personally autographed her photo for everyone, including our granddaughter.

    So, again, kudos to all who made this memorable event happen, and I for one hope it is held every year. The movie is timeless and I’ll bet there will be even a larger audience each year as more folks hear of it.

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