Festival opens with Miss West Duluth Pageant

The 27th annual Miss West Duluth Pageant kicks off the Spirit Valley Days festivities at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5 on the Spirit Valley stage outside Mr. D's. This event is free and open to the public.

Amanda Saari reacts as she is crowned Miss West Duluth in 2006. (Duluth News Tribune file photo)

The 27th annual Miss West Duluth Pageant kicks off the Spirit Valley Days festivities at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5 on the Spirit Valley stage outside Mr. D's. This event is free and open to the public.

Miss West Duluth 2014, Maria Puglisi, and Miss West Duluth Princess 2014, Courtney Stabe, will crown their successors.

To be a contestant, one must be age 15-18, live in the Denfeld school district and have a grade point average of at least 2.5 or higher.

The contestants write essays on why they love West Duluth and have personal interviews with each of the four judges. They also write commentaries on their casual and evening wear, courtesy of Bethany's Closet and West Duluth Sewing and Design. They will answer a spontaneous question about issues pertaining to West Duluth.

This year's essay judge is Brianna Stolan, Miss West Duluth 2008. The pageant judges are Reba Marana, Miss West Duluth 2004, Michelle Mudek, Miss West Duluth former contestant and Aria Russell of Team Nutrition/Cold Fusion. Duo Tones is providing salon services to the contestants. Irving Community Club provides the scholarships for the two winners.


This year's contestants are as follows:

Kassi Habert

Kassi Habert will graduate from Denfeld High School this spring. Her hobbies include singing and writing and she is involved in choir, journalism and talent search, a college preparation program at Denfeld. After high school, Habert plans to attend to college of St. Scholastica or a two-year community college in the Duluth area. In her free time, Habert enjoys spending time with her brother and playing with her pets.

Hannah Carlson

Hannah Marie Carlson will be a senior at Denfeld High School this fall. She has lived in the Duluth area her whole life with her parents, Sarah Ebmer and Keefer Ebmer. She is involved in many groups at Denfeld, including Little Mob and Shirley Tempos (choir groups), Concert Choir, Travel Club, Key Club and Talent Search. Carlson has taken difficult classes while still maintaining good grades throughout her high school career. After graduation, she is considering becoming a part of the Department of Natural Resources. Outside of school, Carlson is an active churchgoer, hiker, drawer, painter and equestrian. She shares two horses with her grandmother, Susan Carlson, with whom she is very close. Horses have always been a big part of Carlson's life. She won her first horse, an 18-month-old bay quarter horse named Dandy, in a raffle when she was 9 years old. Carlson still has been taking lessons at River Ranch Arena in Esko ever since. She loves her family, friends and her lovely home of West Duluth.


Jenna Unden

Jenna Elizabeth Unden is an incoming junior at Denfeld High School. She lives with her parents, two dogs, six cats and her twin sister, Johanna. Unden likes to spend her time hanging out with friends, going to the beach, walking her dogs, spending time with her sister and working at the Taco John's on Grand Avenue. This year will be Unden's second year on the Denfeld cheer team and one of her goals is to become captain next year. Aside from cheerleading, Unden also loves to sing. She was in the Solid Gold ensemble last year, where she performed in nursing homes, churches, and the holiday center. She enjoyed making people smile by sharing their music and voices with them. After high school, Unden plans on attending St. Scholastica in the nursing program. She loves to help and care for people, and thinks nursing will be a great career for her.

Taylor Johnson

Taylor Johnson is an upcoming senior at Denfeld High School. Johnson has played volleyball and track at Denfeld since her freshman year and will be a captain of the track and field team this year. Outside of sports, Johnson is also the captain of the Denfeld Nation Automation 4009 FIRST Robotics team. She plays the violin in the Denfeld High School Orchestra and has also played with the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra youth orchestras for the past six years. Johnson also enjoys arranging and composing music and being involved in the Music Listening Competition. Competing since her freshman year, Johnson and the two other members of her team were able to move on to compete at the state competition last year. Other activities Johnson takes part in at Denfeld are Key Club, Speech, National Honors Society, Knowledge Bowl and the Denfeld Oracle (yearbook).

Janessa Kuhlmey

Janessa Kuhlmey is about to start her senior year at Denfeld High School. With five sisters ranging in age from 5 to 26, family is a major part of her life. She also likes to keep herself busy with work and sports. Kuhlmey started dancing when she was just three years old and since then has danced for Dance Escape, Madill competition team and the Denfeld Shoreliners dance team. She is also involved with the Denfeld Girls Tennis Team. Kuhlmey enjoys working with kids and works as a nanny to three different families. She has also worked at J.C. Penny's as an associate. Her plans after high school include college and majoring in psychology. Kuhlmey hopes to become a child psychologist.

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