Six vie for Miss Chugiak/Eagle River, Miss Birchwood titles

Friday, December 8, 2017 - 11:19
  • Allison Jiminez (Photo courtesy Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Pageant)
  • Brianna Mendez (Photo courtesy Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Pageant)
  • Dawn Banfield (Photo courtesy Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Pageant)
  • Jordan Naylor (Photo courtesy Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Pageant)
  • Katerina Coe (Photo courtesy Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Pageant)
  • Sabrina Willis (Photo courtesy Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Pageant)

There’s a lot of love behind the Miss Chugiak/Eagle River pageant.

When Bob Adkins was a young substitute teacher at Chugiak High School in the early 1990s, he spied the photo of a young woman pinned to the wall behind CHS activities clerk Kathleen Kuersten. Adkins was immediately smitten.

“I said who the [heck] is that?!?” Adkins said of the first time he saw a photo of Miss Alaska 1990 Holly Salo of Kenai.

As the longtime director of the Miss Chugiak/Eagle River pageant, Kuersten had Salo’s photo at her desk alongside those of other pageant winners from across the state. She offered to set up a meeting between the two kids and the rest — as they say — is history.

“She introduced me to my husband,” said Holly Salo Adkins, who now holds pageant director title Kuersten held for so many years.

The Adkins family later resettled in Chugiak-Eagle River, where the duo is heavily involved in activities at Eagle River High School (Bob is the basketball and football coach, Holly coaches gymnastics and cheerleading). Three years ago, their daughter, Elle, got involved in the local pageant and mom followed suit.

This year’s local Miss Alaska hopefuls begin their journey to the crown at 6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 at Gruening Middle School, where the titles of 2017 Miss Chugiak/Eagle River and Miss Birchwood will be handed out, along with the title of Miss Chugiak/Eagle River Outstanding Teen. All three winners will receive college scholarships and advance to the statewide pageants.

Six young women ages 17 to 23 will compete for the Miss titles, including Katerina Coe, Sabrina Willis, Dawn Banfield, Jordan Naylor, Brianna Mendez and Allison Jimenez. This year’s Outstanding Teen contestants are Sierra Self, Sarah Smith and Jazzie Trotter. The event will be emceed by 2017 Miss Chugiak/Eagle River Regina Lochner and 2017 C/ER Outstanding Teen Meghan Scott, with performances by Miss Alaska 2017 Angelina Klapperich and Miss Alaska Outstanding Teen 2017 Emma Broyles. Tickets are $12 at the door or $10 if purchased from one of the contestants prior to the show.

Adkins said preparations have been in full swing in recent days, with contestants helping out at the annual Winter Wonderland and community tree-lighting celebration and rehearsing for the talent portion of the competition. She said this year’s contestants will bring a wide variety of talents to the stage, including stand-up comedy, signing, dancing and musical instruments.

“You’re going to see a little bit of everything,” she said.

In addition to being from the local area, this year’s contestants also have something else in common: several of them work with Lochner at Garcia’s Cantina & Cafe, a popular Mexican restaurant in Eagle River.

“They’re going to be a little shorthanded that night,” Adkins quipped.

This year’s winners will go on to compete in the statewide pageant June 15 at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium in Anchorage.

For more information about the Miss Chugiak/Eagle River Pageant, visit them on facebook at or find the Miss Alaska pageant online at

Contact Star editor Matt Tunseth at [email protected]

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