De Soto Queen's Court

For over 75 years, the De Soto Heritage Festival has celebrated the intellect and talent of a select group of special young women from the community by naming them to the De Soto Queen’s Court, a scholarship program.

Candidates are recommended by the community and then the Hernando De Soto Historical Society makes its choices on the basis of character, appearance, scholastic ability, high morals, and personality.

The De Soto Queen’s Court serves as goodwill ambassadors for the Hernando De Soto Historical Society and Manatee County through the following spring.


2016 Queen Sarah & Princess Baylee

Sarah Jean Adams is the 18 year old daughter of Scott and Teri Adams. She has brown hair and hazel eyes and is a 2015 graduate of Braden River High School. While in high school, Sarah was active in FFA, served as treasurer and parliamentarian for FFA, and won third place in Prepared Public Speaking. Currently Sarah attends State College for Florida. Her hobbies include spending time with family and friends, going to the beach, and shopping. Sarah’s future plans are to receive her degree in Elementary Education and become a teacher specializing in special needs.

Baylee Nicole Sawdy is the 19 year old daughter of Mickey and Kim Sawdy. She has light brown hair and hazel eyes and is a 2014 graduate of Manatee High School. While in high school, Baylee served as freshman class secretary, was a varsity cheerleader all 4 years, a senior cheerleading captain, and graduated from the Medical Program with honors. Currently Baylee attends the State College of Florida where she enjoys learning about her Irish background. Her hobbies include coaching cheerleading, organizing events, shopping, and spending time with family and friends. Baylee’s future plans are to obtain a degree from the University of South Florida in education and become a History teacher at a local high school while also coaching the cheerleading team.

Meet the Queen's Court

Get to know the ten talented, charismatic young women who comprise the De Soto Queen's Court

Meet the Queen's Court

Miss De Soto Heritage Festival

Each year a representative from the Queen’s Court is selected to participate in the Miss Florida pageant as a part of the Miss America circuit. The De Soto pageant winner is crowned Miss De Soto Heritage Festival and is selected based on the lofty requirements set forth by Miss America. This year’s Miss De Soto Heritage Festival is Samantha Rae Hyatt.

Samantha is the 20 year old daughter of Russell and Pam Hyatt. She has brown hair and brown eyes and is a 2015 graduate of Lakewood Ranch High School. While in high school, Samantha was captain of the marching band color guard, president of the Latin Club, on both Junior and Senior advisory boards, in the National Honor Society, received her Girl Scout Gold Award, and graduated in the top 4% of her class. Currently Samantha attends the University of Florida, where she is on the Dean’s List, and a member of Delta Nu Zeta service sorority and Extreme Dance Company. Her hobbies include reading, volunteering, and riding ATVs. Samantha’s future plans are to graduate from the University of Florida and return to Manatee County to pursue a career in public relations.


Accompanying the Queen’s Court each year are a group of charming and sweet little ladies known as the Conquistadorables.

Nominated by the community these girls, ages 7 to 9, capture the hearts of all they meet throughout the De Soto Heritage Festival.

To nominate a young lady for participation, please inquire here.


"One of the greatest experiences of my life was participating in the De Soto Queen's Court!" - Melissa Trippy

de-soto-queen-SOTC-parade-600x400Sisterhood of the Crown

In 2009, the Hernando de Soto Historical Society celebrated its 70th Anniversary with a reunion of their former Queens and Princesses.

Coming together for the first time in history, these community leaders realized the potential of organizing their efforts to do charitable works and the Sisterhood of the Crown was born.  In 2011, Alumni of the Queen’s Court were invited to join the group.

Today the Sisterhood of the Crown gives back to our home community of Manatee County through efforts of scholarship, support, and philanthropy.  Joining this energetic group of ladies is a wonderful way to remain active in the Hernando de Soto Historical Society for years to come.

For more information, please visit the Sisterhood of the Crown website.