Owensboro’s Leanord to compete in Miss Kentucky Teen Pageant on June 11; selects clogging for talent

June 10, 2024 | 12:09 am

Updated June 10, 2024 | 6:42 am

Owensboro’s Shaylee Leonard continues to prosper after being crowned Miss Teen Kentucky County Fair last fall. She will compete at the Miss Kentucky’s Teen Pageant this week at SkyPac in Bowling Green. 

The Miss Kentucky organization operates under Miss America and will host the event. Participants aged 13-18 from all over the Commonwealth will flock to Bowling Green for the competition. 

“This is a great opportunity for me,” Leonard said. “I enjoy being involved in the state and spreading our service initiatives. I also enjoy spending the week with the girls and building the sisterhood. It’s super amazing, and I make friendships that last forever.”

The competition features five categories: interviews, on-stage questioning, fitness, talent, and evening gowns. 

Like Owensboro native and Miss Kentucky 2018 Katie Bouchard, Leonard selected the state dance for her talent: clogging. She’s leaning on locally renowned clogger and instructor Barry Lanham at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum for guidance. 

“I saw Miss KY 2018 and 2022 use it for their talents, and it looked fun and cool, so that’s what I decided to do,” Leonard said. “Clogging with Barry has been so much fun. I’ve had to put a lot of work into it, and I’m excited to share it on stage and with the judges.”

Lanham coached Bouchard back when she earned the Miss Kentucky crown and later coached Alyson Ford, who won the title of Miss Kentucky Bluegrass in 2020. 

“Shaylee approached me last year and said she wanted some clogging coaching for the Miss Kentucky Teen competition,” Lanham said. “She is a very determined young lady, and I’m honored to work with her. She has a really strong talent, and I know she can earn the crown.”

Lanham said Leonard has been participating in private and public classes, attending the museum twice weekly for lessons since December. He said her clogging and competition efforts help increase the dance’s popularity, and he’s grateful for that. 

“I’m excited Shaylee and the others have taken an interest in our Kentucky state dance and are promoting it on a national stage,” he said. “They’re carrying the torch. These young people are keeping the dance alive and going, and I’m thankful for that.”

The feelings are mutual. 

“I’m thankful for Barry Lanham and the Bluegrass Museum for all they do,” Leonard said. “They have helped me so much, and I can’t wait to showcase my talent at the competition.”

Leonard said she’s most confident in the interview portion because she “has a knack for talking to people.” In preparation, she is also practicing her walks, selecting wardrobe pieces, and conducting mock interviews.

Her service initiative is Grace Yourself for a Cure, through which she is raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. 

“St. Jude’s has always been near and dear to my heart,” she said. “I feel like it’s been placed in front of me to go help with, and the love I have for children drew me towards it.”

June 10, 2024 | 12:09 am

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