Richland's Cox named first runner-up in Miss Washington

Richland’s Kristin Cox was named first runner-up in the Miss Washington pageant Saturday night in Tacoma.

The 23-year-old Kamiakin High School graduate was “so close” to winning, said Dot Stewart, the executive director of the Miss Tri-Cities scholarship programs.

Cox won the preliminary talent and evening gown awards Friday evening, earning her $2,000 for those honors, Stewart said.

“She was awesome,” Stewart said.

The first runner-up standing earned Cox $2,500 and the opportunity to participate as Miss Washington in the National Sweetheart pageant — a mini-Miss America for states’ first runners-up — Labor Day weekend in Illinois.

Cox placed behind 21-year-old Janet Harding of Yelm, who competed as Miss Tahoma.

Meanwhile, a taste of Las Vegas is coming to the Tri-Cities on Saturday.

The Miss Tri-Cities and Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen pageant, themed “Viva Las Vegas,” will feature 12 contestants and an award-winning Elvis tribute artist, Ben “Preslee” Klein.

This is the first year the two programs have been combined into one show, Stewart said.

The change will get them on the same pageant cycle, she said.

“They’re all excellent candidates,” Stewart said of the five teens and seven miss participants.

“They work hard. They’re very committed to the program,” she said, adding that their talents range from singing and dancing to piano playing and a monologue.

Cox, the current Miss Tri-Cities, and Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen Whitney Poynor also will be at the show.

The program has the goal of giving out $25,000 in scholarships this year.

The pageant starts at 7 p.m. at the Art Fuller Auditorium at Kennewick High School.

Tickets are available online at www.misstricities.org and www.ticketswest.com or by calling 547-0495 or 800-325-7328.