Miss Huntington heads to Zionsville

Miss Huntington Mallory Bunting.
Photo by Matt Murphy.

Huntington's own Mallory Bunting will have a shot at becoming Miss Indiana next week at the Zionsville Performing Arts Center in Zionsville.

Bunting was named Miss Huntington last October, beating 11 other contestants to win the crown.

Now, she's gearing up for the statewide pageant, to be held June 21 through June 27.

"I'm nervous. I've never done the state pageant before," says Bunting.

Bunting cites the high-profile nature of the event, constantly being on the spot and older, more experienced competitors as reasons for her anxiousness.

Bunting will compete against 27 other young women at the Miss Indiana pageant in four areas: a talent portion, an on-stage question period, a swimsuit competition and an evening wear competition.

Those four areas, are referred to as the "preliminary competition," will be judged on Wednesday, June 24, and Thursday, June 25. Bunting will complete the swimsuit and eveningwear competitions on Wednesday and the talent and on-stage question competitions on Thursday,

Bunting's talent will be vocal, in which she will be singing "A Change in Me."

Out of the original group of 28, 10 girls will be selected based on the preliminary competition to advance to the final competition on Saturday, June 27, for the title of Miss Indiana.

Bunting will use her platform, "Caring for Kids," for the interview portion of the competition. Bunting says that Caring for Kids is a non-profit organization that builds awareness of young children who are affected by a range of diseases in the early stages of life.

Each contestant also has a "princess" who escorts her throughout the week. Bunting's princess will be Eileen Mettler, a fifth-grader at Huntington Catholic School this fall and the daughter of David and Therese Mettler, of Huntington.

Unfortunately, the Miss Indiana Pageant overlaps with Huntington's Heritage Days festival, so Bunting will not be able to attend the festival in Huntington.

But how did Bunting end up in this position as Miss Huntington, now trying to win the Miss Indiana title?

Bunting, the daughter of Leo Bunting Jr. and Denise Zahm, both of Huntington, said she learned of the Miss Huntington pageant from Sandy Stephan, one of the two directors of the Miss Huntington pageant. Stephan said that more girls were needed for the 2008 pageant, sponsored by the Huntington Optimist Club.

Enticed by the scholarship money and the fun she anticipated having, Bunting agreed - and won.

Her role as Miss Huntington has expanded her already busy schedule of community involvement. While in high school, Bunting was involved in Varsity Singers, Future Educators of America, the cadet teaching program, band, National Honor Society and a number of musicals. In addition to those school activities, Bunting was involved in her church, was active with Relay for Life for the past 12 years and volunteered at Red Cross blood drives, even though she couldn't actually donate blood because of her low weight.

And as Miss Huntington, Bunting has not slowed down.
She has participated in a number of fund-raisers and other work for organizations and businesses in the community, such as singing for Relay for Life and making pizza for the children at McKenzie's Hope, the Huntington County child advocacy center.

"It's whoever needs me," Bunting says, referring to the organizations she works with as part of her title.

Bunting says she is looking to speak at elementary schools throughout Huntington County, but she has been able to speak only at Huntington Catholic this past spring, due to the other schools being in ISTEP testing. Bunting says that she plans to visit the other schools in the fall.

If Bunting should win Miss Indiana, she explains that she would do similar work to what she is doing already, just statewide instead of countywide. She also would be eligible to compete for Miss America in January 2010.
But whatever the outcome, Bunting does have plans for the future.

A 2009 graduate of Huntington North, she will attend Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in the fall to major in elementary education with a possible minor in music. She also says she may participate in more pageants in the coming years.

"But school comes first," Bunting says.

She says she would like to teach kindergarten or first grade, and definitely wants to stay in or near Huntington, or at least in Indiana.