2 May 2023

Eight new entrants aim to 'give back' to the city they love in the 2024 Miss Wagga Wagga Quest

| Chris Roe
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Miss Wagga Wagga

The eight entrants for Miss Wagga Wagga 2024 gather around Kate Pevere for the launch. Photo: Chris Roe.

The Miss Wagga Wagga Quest is back for another year with an impressive lineup of eight entrants vying to represent their city in 2024.

Since it began in 1948, the quest has focused on empowering Riverina women and has raised more than two million dollars for the community.

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More than 120 people gathered at The Wagga RSL on Wednesday night for the official launch and to hear each of the entrants deliver a five-minute presentation on ‘What Wagga Wagga Means to Me’.

“I’m thrilled, I think it’s just been awesome,” enthused the very proud committee chair Ali Tanner.

“Each of the eight young women have their own reasons for being in the quest.

“They were not asked to join; they came of their own initiative because they want to give back to their community and to grow in themselves.”

Miss Wagga entrants

Jessica Cousley, Jess Barclay, Velika Hayes, Poppy Vandermark, Salwa Sulaiman, Chelsea Burgess Hannon, Caitlin Burnett and Mikayla Argus-Anderson. Photo: Chris Roe.

This year’s entrants are Mikayla Argus-Anderson, Jessica Cousley, Velika Hayes, Jess Barclay, ​Poppy Vandermark, Caitlin Burnett, Salwa Sulaiman and Chelsea Burgess Hannon who all confronted their nerves to share their stories and their connection to the region.

Salwa Sulaiman is the quest’s first Yazidi entrant, representing the growing community in Wagga and she shared her story of surviving genocide in Iraq and fleeing to Australia where she said she had found a new home that she wanted to give back to.

“It’s an incredibly diverse group and each of them has a unique story to tell and a lot to give,” Ali said.

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The current Miss Wagga Wagga, Kate Pevere, hosted the event and said it was amazing to reflect on how much she had grown over the past 12 months.

“I’m really excited to be on the outside of it this time, kind of ‘through the looking glass’ and watching all the new entrants grow,” she said.

“Last year, when I was up there, I sat down after my speech and I must not have breathed during the five minutes because I sat down next to (Mayor) Dallas Tout and started hyperventilating!

“To be able to stand up and do something like this and to just get up and speak to big groups of people and go to events, it’s amazing how much you grow and you don’t even realise until you stop and think about it.”

Miss Wagga

Miss Wagga Wagga 2023 Kate Pevere said it had been a big year of personal growth. Photo: Chris Roe.

Kate said it had been a busy year for herself and Community Princess Haylee Burkinshaw carrying out official duties, getting behind local initiatives and challenging preconceptions.

“At the start of the year, Haylee and I sat down and said, ‘What do we want to get out of this year?’, and we really wanted to change the perspective of the Miss Wagga Wagga Quest and to bring a better truth to it,” she explained.

“The name can be a little bit misleading, and we do still get asked if it’s a beauty pageant. And there is a level of personal presentation but it’s all about learning to network and public speaking and a lot of skills that you don’t otherwise learn.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I wish it was available for more people.”

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