By BECKY KISER
For the second consecutive year, the winner of the Mrs. Kansas Pageant is a Hays woman.
Mrs. Kansas 2018, Anissa Pfeifer, 25, is in Las Vegas this week to compete in the national pageant, Mrs. America.
Pfeifer’s journey to the competition is due in part to Mrs. Kansas 2017, Cassie Hickel of Hays.
Hickel’s pageant clothing and styling were provided by Pfeifer and her sister Sonia, who co-own the Blue Heron Boutique in downtown Hays. During those fashion advice sessions, Hickel encouraged Pfeifer to enter the Mrs. Kansas competition.
“Cassie knows I have a passion for believing in the best in everyone and want people to follow their dreams. Having her believe in me, and saying ‘you might be scared but you just have to do it,’ kind of roped me in to it a little bit. But I’m grateful.
“I never in a million years thought I would be wearing a crown in my life,” Pfeifer said.
Pfeifer was crowned Mrs. Kansas June 23 at the pageant in Chillicothe, Missouri.
Since then she’s been busy working on her state pageant platform and local project to bring Toys for Tots to Ellis County while prepping for the national contest.
“We’ve always had Toys for Tots in this area and now I will now be able to have a location here, so you won’t have to go outside of Hays. So if you live in Ellis County you can come to Hays at Christmas time to get toys for your children.
She’s working with her friend Kim McDonald, who organizes the Toys for Tots campaign in the Hill City area, to work out the details. Pfeifer and her sister are also from Hill City.
“I’m really excited to be working with Kim and making this difference in the community.
“Children are near and dear to my heart,” Pfeifer says. “I love seeing their smiles. This organization is perfect because it helps those families who are in desperate need of just a little bit of kindness.
“Like my four-year-old said, I get to play Santa for a day so I’m really excited about that.”
Pfeifer and her husband Marcus, 27, have two “very strong willed” children, Brantley, 4, and Oakleigh, 2. “They’re full of life and they keep me running around all the time,” she smiled. Marcus has his own welding shop and specializes in oilfield equipment.
Her family has been very supportive of her pageant work, according to Pfeifer, as well as her dreams before she wore a crown.
“They are 100 percent behind me, pushing me toward all my goals.”
She also considers her close friends as family. “I’ve been really blessed to have great friends and family that have been an enormous support system and believing in me.”
Pfeifer hopes she can be that hope and encouragement to other women as they follow their dreams.
“God kind of pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she declared, “and this has been one of my biggest blessings.”
Pfeifer’s official appearance clothing and pageant costumes feature styles and accessories from Blue Heron Boutique, which in May moved into the historic George Phillip Hardware building, 719 Main. “We’re still kind of tweaking it a little bit and making all the little changes to make it ‘our home.’ It’s the perfect spot for our vision and what we want our brand to be.”
She enjoys fashion and glamour looks, which are a part of the pageant world, but says it’s what’s on the inside that is most important.
“It’s not necessarily about how you look. You can have your hair and makeup done and still not feel beautiful or confident. It’s mainly the way you’re carrying yourself when you walk into a room in that perfect outfit and say ‘I’ve got this.’ You feel in control because it’s the confidence you have in yourself, not necessarily the outfit.”
Pfeifer credits her mother, Laura Larcom, Olathe, for instilling her confidence.
“She’s very strong and very bold. She has supported us, a single mother of four kids. I’ve had such a great role model to look up to. She definitely plays a role in who I am and why I go for things all the time.”
Although Pfeifer’s mother will be unable to go to Vegas and her husband will remain in Hays with the kids, best friend Kim McDonald, and sister Sonia will accompany her to the pageant.
Pfeifer is looking forward to her interviews with the pageant judges. “That’s where I feel I’m able to shine the most because I’m able to speak and just tell my heart.”
Still, she admits to a fear of public speaking. “I’m excited about stepping out of my boundaries, though. You’re never following your calling if you’re not a little bit uncomfortable.”
Entering its 41st year, the final competition round for Mrs. America 2018 will be streamed live beginning at 7 p.m. CST, Sat., Aug. 25, at https://mrsamerica.com/ from the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino. The winner will go on to compete for the title of Mrs. World 2018.
Regardless of who wins the Mrs. America title, Pfeifer hopes Hays will keep its streak running with another Mrs. Kansas. “We’re gonna have to find a third local winner,” she laughed, “because we’ve got to keep up the trend.”