On Feb. 1, Mattie Barker’s life changed.
After days of competing at the Miss Kentucky Teen USA Pageant, the 17-year-old Greenwood High School junior was named the winner.
“It was crazy,” she said. “I had no idea.”
The event began with 46 girls competing for the crown.
“I got there on Thursday,” Barker said. “Friday morning, I woke up at 5 a.m. and got my makeup done and had interviews at 9 a.m. with two panels of judges at two minutes each. From there we had rehearsal all day for five hours, and then we had the show at 8 p.m.”
After the preliminary show, Saturday was the final competition.
“I woke up that morning and had practice all day, then the show was at 5 p.m.,” Barker said.
The field was first narrowed to 15, and then to five after interviews, a workout outfit look and an evening gown look.
“I was thankful to be in the top 15,” Barker said. “Then I got into the top five, and I thought, ‘Are you sure?’ Then they called my name. I was so surprised.”
Barker was the last contestant to be named into the top five before being crowned the winner.
“There is a lot to do now,” Barker said. “Now I am getting ready for Miss Teen USA. We don’t know where it is or when it is yet, but I have a trainer that is working with me. It is honestly really scary, but there are a lot of good girls coming to Miss Teen USA.”
Barker’s Miss Kentucky Teen duties include appearances with the current Miss Kentucky, Lexie Iles, and visiting elementary schools and boys and girls clubs as well.
Barker’s first memory of pageants was in the third grade. “Miss Kentucky came to our school, and I thought I wanted to be her, so it is cool to be able to compete in Miss Teen USA now,” she said.
Barker’s pageant career began two years ago when she competed in a local Calendar Girl Pageant, which landed her in the Miss Kentucky Teen Pageant for the first time.
“She has always been a unique individual that wants to do things independently,” said her father, Andy Barker. “When this opportunity came up this year, she said she was going to do this again and her uniqueness is incredible. She is very grounded and genuine, and we are blessed with that. She set out to do her best and knew she was going to be all right and she knew how big the competition was.”
Andy Barker said the moment his daughter was crowned was incredible.
“No way to describe it,” he said. “Although right at that point, you wanted to throw up and cry at the same time. I have never been like that before. It was craziness.”
After she was crowned, her family was immediately taken to the stage for pictures.
“I could not be more proud of her,” Andy Barker said.
Mattie Barker is involved musically with her church family at Crossland Church in Bowling Green.
“I play the piano, the guitar and the ukulele,” she said. “I’m also the worship leader at Crossland Church and I have lessons for that, too. I want to start the electric guitar, too.”
After high school, Mattie Barker wants to attend Belmont and major in fashion design.
While preparing for the upcoming competition, she encourages future contestants to participate in Miss Kentucky Teen.
“I definitely recommend it,” she said. “I think it is so fun to meet new friends and stay confident because everyone is different in their own way, and that’s what makes you beautiful.”
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