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Miss Kentucky contestants volunteer at food bank prior to pageant competition

Before a new Miss Kentucky is crowned, the contestants pitch in at the food bank

There's a service side to being Miss Kentucky. See what it's like here.
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There's a service side to being Miss Kentucky. See what it's like here.

Miss Kentucky 2018 contestants whistled while they worked — OK, make that they sang Disney Channel songs — at God’s Pantry Food Bank Monday morning.

The 31 competitors bagged, labeled and packaged macaroni from three 1,000-pounds boxes as part of a week of activities leading up to the Miss Kentucky pageant finals Saturday night in Lexington.

It was the second year competitors visited the food bank, which serves Central and Eastern Kentucky.

Service is a major part of Miss Kentucky’s duties, said Ashley Anderson, president of the Miss Kentucky Scholarship Organization, and all contestants represent a platform they are passionate about in their community.

This year’s platforms range from autism awareness to heart health to food security.

“This is just an opportunity to do some community service as a group and make an impact on their community,” she said.

Miss Kentucky must suspend her education for a year to work full-time for the Department of Agriculture, serving as the spokesperson for the Kentucky Proud brand and traveling the state to speak and perform community service. She also competes in the Miss America national competition and wins $18,000 in scholarships, as well as $25,000 for the year of public service.

Molly Matney, Miss Kentucky 2017, joined the 2018 contestants as they worked, bringing the Miss Kentucky sash with her. She will crown the winner Saturday night.

“It’s bittersweet to be here because I’m going out, but I’m excited for the next one to come in,” she said.

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Some of the competitors are new to pageantry and some are old hands. Yulia Perevozchikova, Miss Monticello, is new to Miss Kentucky but has watched Miss America competitions her whole life.

“It’s been a dream come true just to be able to compete,” she said.

Pageant activities will begin Wednesday as contestants participate in private interviews with the judges, and will continue Thursday afternoon with the Quality of Life award ceremony, in which one contestant will be picked from the top five for her outstanding service to the community, based on her personal platform and work she has done in her home county.

Thursday through Saturday night will be the onstage competition, culminating in onstage finals Saturday night at the Singletary Center.

Molly Matney, Miss Mammoth Cave area, was crowned Miss Kentucky 2017 at the Singletary Center for the Arts.