CIRCLEVILLE - Hannah Zimmerman, a 2013 graduate of Westfall High School, will compete in the Miss Ohio pageant in June after being named Miss Greater Columbus 2015 at the competition held Saturday in Columbus.
The winner of Miss Ohio will then move on to represent the state in the next Miss America pageant.
Zimmerman, who earned the title of Miss Pumpkin Show in 2012, is the daughter of James and Karen Zimmerman of Ashville and Aaron and Christine Candlish of Circleville.
"It is so special to win in the Columbus local pageant," Zimmerman said. "It's the only one close to home, and I feel really blessed to be representing my hometown again."
In addition to the title, Zimmerman was the Talent Award winner with her lyrical dance performance.
Zimmerman is currently a junior at the University of Cincinnati majoring in paralegal studies with a minor in psychology. Her goal, she said, is to become a family law attorney.
It was that interest, as well as her year serving as a role model for younger girls as Miss Pumpkin Show, that inspired her platform for the competition, "Promoting the L.A.W."
L.A.W., she said, stands for Leadership Among Women, a pursuit to help build self-confidence in girls and more equality for men and women in the workplace and the community.
"I want to help inspire more young people to branch out in their community and to become leaders in life," Zimmerman said.
She said she also wants to work as an advocate for young people with more disadvantaged backgrounds or from single-parent homes.
"They may come from a different background, but that doesn't define where they are going to go in life," she said.
Part of Zimmerman's requirement to advance to the Miss Ohio competition is to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network. Donations can be made through a link on her Facebook page or by visiting www.missamericaforkids.org and entering her name in the "Search for Contestants" link.
Zimmerman was one of two Pickaway County women competing at the Miss Greater Columbus pageant on Saturday. She was joined by Ally Hardin, daughter of Julie and Matt Chafin, a Logan Elm graduate and sophomore at Capital University majoring in nursing.
Hardin represented Logan Elm High School in the Miss Pumpkin Show contest in 2011, and she was named second attendant in the Miss Ashville 4th of July contest in 2012.
"When I was on the Ashville 4th of July court, I got to meet Miss Ohio that year," Hardin said. "She talked about how she got to go out in the community and promote her platform, and that's when I got inspired and worked up the confidence to actually do this."
Hardin's platform for Miss Greater Columbus was "A Chance to Dance," which supports a special needs dance class in Circleville offered by her mother at the Brooks-Yates School.
"We raise money for shoes, costumes and anything the dancers might need throughout the year," Hardin said. "There are about 10 students right now, some in wheelchairs and walkers, and we have boys and girls in the class."
Even with her previous local pageant experience, Hardin said Miss Greater Columbus was a lot more intense and very competitive with a lot of great contestants. She said she plans to continue participating in similar contests throughout the state.
"It has been a great experience," she said.
Hardin took the honors for Most Photogenic at Saturday's competition.
As for Zimmerman, Pumpkin Show Queen co-chairs Linda Ballou and Rob Febes believe she is the first former Miss Pumpkin Show to advance to the Miss Ohio pageant.
"She was wonderful, very outgoing, an amazing queen," Ballou said. "She'll put in a good word for Circleville and Pickaway County and the Pumpkin Show. That's just the kind of girl she is."
Febes said Zimmerman was contestant number 12 at the Miss Greater Columbus pageant, which coincided with her contestant number at the Miss Pumpkin Show contest in 2012. She also carried a small pumpkin as a good luck charm for the local contest and had it with her Saturday in Columbus.
"She is a wonderful young lady," Febes said. "She always put herself out there and mingled with people. She made memories and friendships that will last a lifetime."
Zimmerman said her Pumpkin Show reign is an experience she will never forget.
"Sometimes people seem to think it's just a little fair pageant or festival pageant, but it's really so much more," she said. "It helped me realize I have more to offer, and I wanted to continue representing my community and my state."
While she still has her fundraising goal to meet before June, she said her plan preparing for Miss Ohio remains pretty simple.
"I'll continue to hit the gym, study current events and work on my dance," she said. "I'll just keep being me."