GREAT FALLS — On Saturday in Arlee, Catherine Mertz of Great Falls won the title of "Mrs. Montana."
Catherine has deep roots in Montana with five generations of her family calling the Treasure State home. Her great-grandparents settled in Utica near the Montana Yogo sapphire deposit, building their home by hand. She lives in Great Falls with her husband James and their two daughters.
A love and passion for photography opened the door for Catherine to enter the Mrs. Montana pageant - and on her first try, she took the crown.
She says her experience at her first pageant was eye-opening. “When you’re in a room of people who have accomplished things that you haven’t, you may have accomplished your own things, but you walk in there and you can feel this energy, and then you add to it and it’s just a magic that is above and beyond,” she said.
After competing in the pageant on Saturday, Catherine has already jumped head-first into her reign as Mrs. Montana, and aims to promote creativity and career development during her tenure.
She plans to attend various local events and is working on opening a new space in Great Falls to further her platform. She wants to create community centers to help provide access for career and creative development.
“So I came up with this platform of really wanting to create this place where creativity can be fostered,” said Catherine. “I think all of us are creative, even if we don’t think we are, we’re told at one point in our childhood that we can’t be creative, and we really all are, and so bringing that out is important, and the art that comes from that really links the community in ways that we don’t understand. It builds these little, tiny bonds between us that makes us stronger.”
Catherine will represent the Treasure State and compete for the Mrs. America title in Las Vegas in November.