Idaho’s Kylee Solberg, 20, brought home the National Sweetheart Pageant crown on Sept. 6.
The National Sweetheart pageant is an annual tradition at the National Sweet Corn Festival in Hoopeston, Ill. But, unlike other rural festival pageant, its contestants are the first runners-up from the various Miss America state pageants across the country. This year 42 women competed.
“It’s really exciting,” Solberg says. “There were 41 other amazing women there and for me to be chosen is humbling. I’m honored.”
Solberg is the second consecutive Miss Idaho to win the title “Miss National Sweetheart.”
Last year, Kalie Wright of Kimberly won the pageant and went on to win Miss Idaho. You can watch Wright compete in the national Miss America Pageant at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 on ABC.
Winning Miss Sweetheart has become a sort of good luck charm for contestants who go on to win their state pageants the following year.
Nine National Sweetheart Pageant winners have gone on to becomes Miss America: Pam Eldred, Miss America 1970; Rebecca King, Miss America 1974; Grace E. Ward, Miss America 1982; Debrah L. Turner, Miss America 1990; Carolyn Sapp, Miss America 1992; Leanza Cornett, Miss America 1993; Tara Dawn Holland, Miss America 1997, Katie Marie Harman, Miss America 2002, Caressa Cameron, Miss America 2010.
The pageant is not affiliated with the Miss America Organization, but it runs like the real thing, with competitions in fitness, poise and talent. The judges also work in the Miss America system.
Solberg is from Coeur d’Alene and now lives in the Treasure Valley where she attends Boise State University. She competed in her first pageant, Miss Meridian, last year. That took her to Miss Idaho. In August, she won the title of Miss Tri-Counties and will compete for Miss Idaho in 2016.