Ananya Veerapaneni, a political science major at UC Merced, was crowned Miss Merced County 2023 during the annual competition held last weekend at the Buhach Colony High School theater. She was joined by other new titleholders crowed that night, including Miss Sierra Nevada Emma Gerson, Miss Merced County’s Outstanding Teen Siya Lakireddy, Miss Yosemite Valley Mackenzie Starnes, and Miss Yosemite Valley’s Outstanding Teen Keira Bixler.
The Miss Merced County competition operates under the Miss America Organization and the five women crowned at the event will travel to Visalia in June and compete for the title of Miss California and Miss California’s Outstanding Teen 2023.
Girls between the ages of 13 and 18 can compete for Miss Merced County’s Outstanding Teen, 18 and 26 for Miss Merced County and they must be Merced, Stanislaus, Mariposa or Madera County residents.
The winners earn scholarships ranging from $200 to $500 to further their academic career. Also, one local candidate receives the Friendship Award which is voted on by the candidates. Ananya Veerapaneni won the award and received $150 donated by the Olivarez-Kidwell family. Veerapaneni also won a new $200 scholarship added this year by Linda Dash to award the candidate with the highest interview score.