Four women competing for Miss Merced County 2020

Photo courtesy of Michelle Symes-Thiara and Wendy Ekizian

A longtime annual tradition this year features four women competing to wear the Miss Merced County crown and 10 contenders for the title of Miss Merced County’s Outstanding Teen.

The competition is set for 6 p.m. Nov. 16 at El Capitan High School Theater.

During the popular talent show portion of this year’s event, Merced’s Madison Kane and Dinuba’s Chelsie Muro each will present monologues, while Dos Palos’ Kiley Pastori will dance and Atwater’s Abigail Wilson will perform comedy.

Kane is a Merced College student. Muro attends Stanislaus State. Pastori is a Fresno State student. Wilson is a senior at Atwater High School.

Organizers said the competition” provides young women with an opportunity to further their personal and professional goals and instills a spirit of community service through a variety of unique national and community-based programs.”

Scholarship money ranging from $150 to $750 also is on the line.

Candidates compete in private and on-stage interviews; talent; evening wear/social impact initiative and physical fitness.

“The score for the competition is broken down among these categories, with the interviews counting for 40 percent of the total score,” organizers said in a news release.

Candidates for Miss Merced County must be between the ages of 17-25 and live, attend school, or work in Merced, Mariposa or Stanislaus counties or attend UC Merced, Merced College, California State University, Stanislaus, or Modesto Junior College.

Candidates for Miss Merced County’s Outstanding Teen can come from any location in California and be between the ages of 13 and 17 and less than a senior in high school.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. For tickets, call 209-261-9363.

Michelle Symes-Thiara and Wendy Ekizian are co-executive directors for the program.

“Wendy and I have been volunteering for the Miss Merced County Program for more than 22 years and what brings us back every year is the growth we see in the young ladies,” Symes-Thiara said in the statement. “They learn to be more confident, poised and can stand in front of six adults and successfully have a 10-minute interview.”

Organizations and individuals interested in supporting the program can contact Symes-Thiara at 209-564-2690.

Learn more about Miss Merced County at www.missmercedcounty.org.