October 6, 2005
Queen Alalah finalist anticipates Arkalalah every year
When the weather begins to cool and the leaves start to fall, Candace Hunt anticipates one of her favorite times of the year: Arkalalah.
This year, the 20-year-old Cowley College sophomore has even more to look forward to. She is one of five finalists for Queen Alalah LXXIV. Crowning will take place at the Queen’s Coronation, 8 p.m. Oct. 28 in the Robert Brown Theatre on Cowley’s Arkansas City campus.
Candace couldn’t believe it when she heard the news.
“I started screaming and jumping up and down,” she said. “I’ve lived here my whole life and grown up with Arkalalah. My cousin (Laura Trenary Frazier) was a top-five candidate, so it’s a big honor for my family.”
Hunt, a 2004 graduate of Arkansas City High School, is the daughter of Michael and Jackie Hunt. Brother Chet is 18 and a senior at ACHS, while sister Kasha is 15 and a freshman at ACHS. Candace is the granddaughter of Larra Lynn Hunt, Ronnie and the late Dona Tousley of Arkansas City and Gary and Sheryl Hunt of Winfield.
The business administration major has stayed busy at Cowley. She is a Student Ambassador, is the activities liaison to the Student Government Association, is treasurer of the Young Republicans, is an active member of Campus Christian Fellowship, Phi Theta Kappa, and is the SGA representative for Peers Advocating Wellness for Students.
Off campus, Candace is a waitress at Neives’ Mexican Restaurant in Winfield, where she received the Outstanding Customer Service Award from the Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce last fall. She received $50 in Chamber Bucks, a plaque, and had her picture in the newspaper.
Hunt said for as long as she could remember, about 20 family members get together each Arkalalah for the Kiwanis Pancake Feed, usually around 7:30 in the morning. This year, the family may have to delay the reunion as Candace and the four other finalists are scheduled to arrive at the feed at 9:30 a.m.
“I like how the community comes together for Arkalalah,” Hunt said. “It’s so much fun. There’s a lot to do and a lot of activities in which to participate. My family tries to go to a lot of it.”
When Hunt was very young, she and one of her best friends participated in the street games and other activities for children.
“That’s always a big memory for me,” she said. “I definitely want my kids to experience the fun memories to be shared when events take place.”
Candace has attended three or four Coronations. Her first was in 1997 when Trenary was a finalist. She has fond memories of that night.
“I remember seeing the queens up on stage in their beautiful dresses and each one speaking,” Hunt said. “The gym (W.S. Scott Auditorium) was packed.”
Even before Trenary was a finalist for Queen Alalah, Hunt looked up to her.
“Laura is definitely my role model and the person I look up to the most,” Hunt said. “I definitely wanted to follow in her footsteps.”
Trenary, a nurse at William Newton Hospital in Winfield, had such an influence on Candace that she wanted to become a nurse, too, until recently.
Hunt said she had several college choices as cousins and friends went numerous places. She chose Cowley.
“I felt Cowley was a safe choice for me because I could get my first two years out of the way,” she said. She is looking to transfer to either Kansas State University or Oklahoma State University.
“The teachers here at Cowley are what really top it off,” Candace said. “They are so encouraging and willing to work with you in just about any circumstance.”
Hunt said she planned to earn a bachelor’s degree and return to Winfield to sell insurance. “It seems like something I’d like to do,” she said.
Hunt has had many rewarding experiences at Cowley. Arkalalah will be icing on the cake.
“There are so many opportunities to get involved, and that’s very rewarding,” Candace said. “I feel like I’ve really become a new person because I’ve learned so much working with people. I think I’m ready to go to a larger college, and I feel like I can communicate with any person I encounter.”
Candace said she had changed a lot in the short time since high school.
“I’ve definitely grown up,” she said. “I’ve become more of an individual. A lot of my close friends aren’t with me. Our lives have changed extremely fast. I really took on a new perspective on how I need to meet new people and become more involved in the community.”
In her spare time, Candace enjoys riding horses, relaxing, going to movies and taking walks. She also participates in intramural sports, enjoys running, and is obsessed with her 2004 Mitsubishi Eclipse. She also loves animals, especially pigs. She raised Durocs and Hampshires in 4-H for nine years.
An inspiration Hunt keeps close to her heart is a Bible passage, Hebrews 12:1. It says to her that as she goes through tough things in life, to just "keep on keeping on" and endure the race set before her. This passage became dear to Hunt when she lost a close friend several years ago.
“It keeps my head up high when things get tough,” Candace said.
It’s been tough for Candace and her family since her grandmother Tousley passed in April.
“A lot of this is pretty emotional for me because my grandma passed away,” Hunt said. “This is what she always strived for us to shoot for. It is an honor to be a finalist. I’ll be thinking about my grandma the night of coronation.”
She’ll also be having fun.
“Everyone tells me how much fun it’s going to be,” Hunt said. “They told me to take lots of pictures and keep everything I get. It will be an experience of a lifetime.”