This photo shows Miss Nebraska State Fair Allison Baird (left) and Miss Heartland Allie Swanson in 2018.

Miss Nebraska, Allie Swanson, will crown the new Miss Heartland at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Grand Island’s College Park Theatre.

This free event is a preliminary competition to the Miss America contest. Contestants will compete for the Miss Nebraska State Fair and Miss Heartland titles. The two title holders will then advance to compete in the Miss Nebraska Scholarship Competition in North Platte, June 3-6, 2020.

Swanson was crowned Miss Heartland in June 2018 alongside Miss Nebraska State Fair, Allison Baird. Both Swanson and Baird will crown the new winners this Saturday.

Swanson said winning the Miss Heartland title helped her qualify for the Miss Nebraska competition and spread her social impact initiative, “Cybersmartz: Protecting Yourself in a Digital World.”

“These girls will compete for Miss Nebraska 2020, next June,” Swanson said. “It’s happening fast.”

The competitors will have to complete a primary interview, showcase their talent, have an on-stage interview and share their social impact initiative during the evening gown portion. Six local judges will be judging the competitors for each of the portions.

Shelly Penner, the co-director of the Miss Heartland/Miss Nebraska State Fair local program, said she is excited for this year’s competition because “it gives these young ladies the opportunity to shine and show what they want to do with Miss Nebraska.”

Penner said scholarships will be given for the following award winners:

— Miss Heartland

— Miss Nebraska State Fair

— Community Service Award

— First Runner-Up

— Top scorer for the interview portion

— Top scorer for the talent portion

Despite having Swanson and Baird leave, Penner said the two sister queens “are amazing women. They spent so much time traveling throughout Nebraska and speaking about their platforms,” Penner said. “They have made such an impact on the state and their communities.”

Penner said that Swanson is the third Miss Heartland to become Miss Nebraska in the history of Miss Nebraska competitions.

“We are so blessed that there are so many people and sponsors to help with the competition,” Penner said.

Anyone interested in volunteering in the local program or any ladies interested in competing should go to

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Natalie Saenz is The Independent's summer intern for 2019. She welcomes news tips and information 24/7!

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