On May 16, 17-year-old Katherine Sharp of Mountain Ranch was crowned Miss Calaveras 2019. Last year, she won Calaveras Saddle Queen 2018. She is the first young woman in the history of the Calaveras County Fair and Jumping Frog Jubilee to win both titles and to have won them consecutively.
She’s not the only one; Emily Bolton, who won first runner up in last year’s saddle queen competition, was crowned Second Princess in the Miss Calaveras scholarship pageant. They weren't planning on doing Miss Calaveras after serving on the saddle queen court, though. CEO and Fair Manager Laurie Giannini approached them and asked if they would be interested in running, since not many girls signed up during the first application period for Miss Calaveras.
It was decided that girls needed more incentive to apply for Miss Calaaveras. Thanks to a very generous $5,000 donation from the Kautz family of Ironstone Vineyards, the scholarship amount increased - $3,000 for Miss Calaveras, $2,000 for first runner up, and $1,000 for second runner up.
Giannini said of their donation, “The Kautzs just really believe in the Miss Calaveras program."
After the Kautz’s donation, the application period was reopened for more girls to sign up for the pageant. Soon, there were six contestants signed up. Two of them were the saddles queens.
Katherine said that she and Emily decided to apply for Miss Calaveras because they had a great experience during the past year together on the saddle queen court.
The Miss Calaveras scholarship pageant presented several new challenges to Katherine. The first one jumping rope. The fitness portion of the pageant required them to jump rope, which, as it turns out, Katherine did not know how to do prior to the event. It was not something she and her siblings did much growing up, so none of them knew how, so she had to learn. On top of all that, one of her sister’s dogs ate the jump rope Katherine was going to use. She had to improvise; she jumped through a hula hoop instead.
A greater challenge she faced in the pageant was with her own dog. Along with great horsemanship, Katherine has dog training skills as well, which she showcased with her dog, Scooter. Not only did her score depend on her own performance but her dog's, there was the issue of having to change locations at the last minute. Due to inclement weather, the pageant was moved from the Main Stage to the Mark Twain Hall.
Katherine said, “Switching locations meant we hadn’t practiced on that stage before. We had a single run through on it. Never been on it before. I was worried he was going to be like, ‘Ooh, all these new smells! The judges faces are right in front of me! Do they want kisses?’ It was a challenge preparing him for that. I was really nervous.”
Scooter rose above the challenges, though, and quickly became a crowd favorite when he entered the stage carrying a bouquet of flowers in his mouth. Katherine gave him several commands, all of which he obeyed happily, including not eating a hot dog Katherine dropped on the floor before him, as he was trained to not eat people food. During the pageant, she explained that he had been trained as a service animal for the blind, but due to a medical condition was unable to fully become one. Scooter’s training stayed with him and he went through their routine with no hiccups.
And although he did not kiss the judges, he still must have won over their hearts. Paired with Katherine’s enthusiasm and energetic presentation on dog training, they secured the Most Talented award.
“I feel like Scooter should get a plaque, too!” Emcee Miss California MacKenzie Freed said after she announced the award.
Katherine said of Scooter’s performance, “It was a real testament to his training.”
For her reign as Miss Calaveras 2019, Katherine looks forward to having a newer and different platform than Saddle Queen.
“I had the platform in the rodeo community, with the more ranch-minded girls. This will give me the opportunity to speak to a lot more people about Calaveras County and what it has to offer and especially the Miss Calaveras program."
She doesn't want girls to be discouraged about running in the pageant, especially if they don't believe they have a talent. Katherine didn't think she had a talent, but decided to go with what she knew, which was dog training. She was inspired to think outside the box for her talent by Miss Calaveras 2018 Destinee Berry, who performed a lively CPR presentation for her talent last year.
“I feel like she started a trend of people starting to branch out more to do different talents for the pageant,” Katherine said.
She also wants to encourage young girls to compete in both the Saddle Queen competition and the Miss Calaveras scholarship pageant.
“If you're a ranch girl who thinks you're just meant for saddle queen, don't think that. There's an opportunity for you.”