Ten candidates vying for title of Sweet Corn Queen

Candidates for the title of 2022 Sweet Corn Festival Queen, left to right, are Maya Martin, KayLee Barkman, Aliza Salinas-Cervantes and Kya DeLao. (Photo contributed)

Pageant scheduled for Aug. 12 in downtown Mendota

MENDOTA – Selecting the Queen to reign over the festivities of Mendota’s 75th Annual Sweet Corn Festival will not be an easy task. There are 10 beautiful young ladies to choose from in this year’s pageant.

The girls have been selected by Mendota not-for-profit organizations to represent them in this year’s event. The pageant will be held Friday, Aug. 12 at 7:30 p.m. on the First State stage on U.S. 34 in downtown Mendota.

Preparations for the event are underway, as the candidates have recently had their publicity photos taken. Each of the Sweet Corn Queen hopefuls will be very busy during the next few weeks, rehearsing stage presence and getting ready for their interviews with the judges.

The Mendota High School Band will be this year’s pre-pageant entertainment and will take the stage at 6:45 p.m.

Let’s introduce the first four candidates vying for the 2022 Sweet Corn Festival Queen title.

The Mendota Rotary Club has selected Maya Martin as its candidate. She is the daughter of Jason and Lisa Martin. Martin has brown hair and blue eyes, and stands five feet, five inches tall.

A 2022 graduate of Mendota High School, Martin was active in a variety of clubs, organizations, and sports, including the math team, the volleyball team, Academic Challenge, Madrigals, show choir, and the drama club. She also served as Interact Club president, class president, choir president, and Student Council vice president. In addition, Martin, a high honor roll student, is an Illinois State Scholar, a Lions Club 4.0 student, and a member of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. Furthermore, she was a BNC All-Conference athlete, a BNC All-Conference Academic team member, an ILMEA All-State Chorus member, and she earned the Spanish Seal of Biliteracy. She was also a member of the homecoming committee and the prom committee as well as a homecoming attendant.

This summer, you can find Martin working at Woodhaven Lakes as a lifeguard. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, singing, hanging out with friends and family, and playing volleyball. Her major interests include science and how the brain works.

Martin will be attending Loyola University-Chicago in the fall as a member of the honors program. She plans to receive her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and would like to continue her education by earning a PhD in neuropsychology in hopes of finding a cure for Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Aliza Salinas-Cervantes has been selected to represent the Mendota Area YMCA in this year’s pageant. She is the daughter of Eric and Gracie Cervantes and Pedro Salinas. She is five feet, seven inches tall, and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Salinas-Cervantes graduated from Mendota High School in 2022. During her time at MHS, she was very active in sports such as volleyball, cross-country, and basketball in addition to participating in band and math team and serving as a Media Center volunteer and Spanish tutor. She was also a prom attendant and a Sweet Corn Festival volunteer. Furthermore, Salinas-Cervantes was Student Council president, a class officer, Interact Club secretary, and yearbook president. A high honor roll student, she is a member of both the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society and has earned the Spanish Seal of Biliteracy. She received a variety of awards her senior year including the Student Council Award and the Lions Club Award.

This summer you will find Salinas-Cervantes working at the front desk of A Lifetime of Smiles, changing one smile at a time. Her hobbies include reading, kayaking, and spending time with family and friends. She loves volunteering and helping in the community as well as learning about science and all of its medical advances.

In the fall, Salinas-Cervantes plans to attend Augustana College as a member of the honors program. Her intent is to obtain a dual degree in biology (premed) and Spanish with the eventual goal of becoming a pediatrician and aiding underserved populations.

She shares that she is super excited and grateful to be participating in this long-standing tradition in Mendota.

Kya DeLao has been chosen to represent Mendota Elks Lodge #1212 in this year’s event. She is the daughter of Jose and Lyndsey DeLao. She has brown hair and hazel eyes, and stands five feet, three inches tall.

A 2022 graduate of Mendota High School, DeLao was a member of the volleyball, basketball, and track teams, serving as the captain of the volleyball and basketball teams for three years. In addition, she was a member of the Student Council, the Spanish Club, and the Yearbook Club. She was a high honor student who was inducted into the National Honor Society, qualified for the BNC All-Conference Academic Team, and received the James D. Hume Award.

This summer, you will find DeLao working at Marchelloni’s in Mendota either waitressing or making your favorite pizza. Some of her hobbies include drawing and painting, working out, listening to music, and reading. Furthermore, she enjoys learning about the anatomy of the body and raising awareness of the rights of the body and the art of healing. DeLao loves animals and any type of sports, and she hopes to spend as much time with family and friends as possible before leaving for college.

DeLao plans on attending Carroll University to pursue a doctorate degree in physical therapy and exercise science. Her goal after earning her doctorate is to start a career as a physical therapist. She would also love to start a family after college.

The Mendota Lions Club has selected KayLee Barkman as its queen candidate. She is the daughter of Dave and Michelle Barkman. She is five feet, four inches tall with brown hair and green eyes.

Barkman is a 2022 graduate of Mendota High School, where she played tennis and was on the bowling team.

This summer, Barkman will be very busy hosting at the Mendota Rosati’s, working as a lifeguard at the Mendota swimming pool, and babysitting. She will also be volunteering for Lions Club events such as the fishing rodeo as well as the Mendota fireworks celebration and the Lions corn dog stand.

Barkman will be attending Illinois Valley Community College in the fall, and she will be playing tennis for the IVCC Eagles. She is seeking a bachelor’s degree in social work. When she completes her degree, she hopes to get a job with DCFS so she can advocate for children in need. In her spare time, Barkman enjoys reading, baking, and hanging out with friends and family.


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