From Vaughn to Vegas: A Small-Town Beauty Queen

By Beacon Staff

On an autumn day 10 years ago, long before she was crowned Miss Montana U.S.A. 2009, Misti Vogt approached a deer she had just shot and recalled a popular children’s movie.

“I shot Bambi,” Vogt remembers thinking. “And then I had to gut it.”

Growing up in the small Montana town of Vaughn as a country girl wearing Wranglers and plaid, Vogt, who now lives in Kalispell, never envisioned she would be preparing to stand in a swimsuit on national television representing Montana as the state’s top beauty queen. But that’s exactly what she’ll be doing on April 19 in Las Vegas at the 2009 Miss U.S.A. beauty pageant, which will be aired on NBC. Vogt won the Miss Montana U.S.A. competition on Sept. 7 in Missoula.

“It’s so exciting,” she said.

The tall 22-year-old blonde no longer hunts, but she has stayed in touch with her Montana roots through fishing, snowboarding and mountain biking. She is studying biomedical engineering at Flathead Valley Community College with the eventual goal of designing and engineering prosthetics as a profession. In the seven months leading up to the Miss U.S.A. event, Vogt will keep herself busy by teaching snowboarding classes at Whitefish Mountain Resort, working at a salon and plenty of schoolwork.

“Miss Montana U.S.A. still has to do calculus,” she said.

Northwest Montana has faired well in beauty pageants in recent years. Former Kalispell resident Amanda Kimmel, who gained fame by participating on the reality television show Survivor, won Miss Montana in 2005. The 2007 winner, Stephanie Trudeau, is from Saint Ignatius. The current Miss Teen Montana United States is Lindsey Meade of Condon.

Miss U.S.A. pageants don’t have a talent portion, though they do require interviews and essays, along with the onstage swimsuit and evening gown modeling. To enter the Montana pageant, Vogt wrote a one-page essay describing herself and her interests. Then a day before the competition she did an interview with a panel of judges, who asked questions ranging from what her goals in biomedical engineering are and what animal she would be if given the chance. She said she would be a fox.

“You pretty much have to think on your toes because you have three minutes to portray yourself,” she said.

While the one-day preparation in Missoula gave Vogt a taste of what she can expect in Las Vegas, it was only a small taste. When she heads down to Treasure Island in April, she will go through nearly three weeks of rehearsal and training for the main pageant. The rehearsals will include swimsuit auditions, make-up orientations and a variety of other preparatory procedures. No Montanan has ever won before.

Vogt wants to orchestrate a journal drive where she goes school to school encouraging kids to document their lives with pen and paper. As a kid in Vaughn, she said she had ample time to read books and believes it’s important for people to get their stories written down. Take advantage of youthful energy, she says, before it’s gone.

“It’s not that I can’t decide what I want to do, it’s just that I want to do it all,” Vogt said. “I might as well do it while I’m young.”