By Ryan Berry
NORTH STAR – Annie Oakley has been gone from this world for 94 years, but her life continues to make an impact on young women as they learn more about the infamous sharp-shooter. That was very evident when Paige Brewer, 2021 Miss Annie Oakley, took center stage at the annual Pilgrimage to Annie’s gravesite at Brock Cemetery just south of North Star.
Brewer, along with this year’s Miss Annie Oakley Madison Werner laid a wreath at the base of Annie Oakley’s headstone, but it was Brewer’s speech that had a few people wiping tears from their eyes.
In addition to Annie Oakley, the 2021 Miss Annie Oakley also gave credit to her grandma for helping her achieve the title. “My Grandma Sue always said I was Little Miss Sure Shot and good at shooting like my dad,” she said. At eight-years-old, her grandma gave her a BB gun for Christmas and exclaimed then, “that I’d be the next Annie Oakley.”
Following in Annie Oakley’s footsteps meant a lot of practice and that is exactly what Brewer did. She was eventually able to hit a bottle cap from 25-feet. When she was finally 14-years-old, the age limit at the time, Brewer entered the contest.
Unfortunately, Grandma Sue had passed away from brain cancer before she could see Brewer compete. That year she decided she was going to shoot in honor of her grandma. “She believed I could do it,” she said. During that year’s pilgrimage to Annie Oakley’s grave, Brewer recalled that it was raining, but the sun was also shining. She knew she had made her grandma proud.
Brewer chose not to give up on her dream of winning the title and competed again the next year. Things did not go as well as she had hoped and was eliminated early on in the competition. Just like Annie Oakley’s most famous quote, “Aim at a high mark and you’ll hit it. No, not the first time, nor the second time. Maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect,” Brewer kept on aiming and kept on shooting and finally became Miss Annie Oakley.
She believes the lessons she has learned from Annie Oakley and as Miss Annie Oakley will carry throughout her life. Although she doesn’t enjoy public speaking, she pointed out that she now knows she can do it. She has also lost some of the shyness she had prior to becoming Miss Annie Oakley because the position requires talking to people and answering their questions.
In addition to Werner, 2022 Miss Annie Oakley, Brewer was joined by other winners from this year’s contest including costume winner Lauren Wright, first runner-up Alexa Robinson, and second runner-up Lexi Dillman.
To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected]