De Soto Society Scholarship Programs

De Soto Queen's Court

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.

Meet the Queen's Court


The Conquistador Historical Foundation distributes grants to local community charities, particularly those with youth educational programming initiatives.


Through a generous donation by De Soto member Art Engelhardt, we maintain an annual student exchange program with Barcarrota, Spain (Bradenton’s Sister City).


We offer college scholarships to our De Soto Queen & Princess as well as the 10 young ladies, ages 18-24, who annually serve on the De Soto Queen's Court.

Miss De Soto Heritage

Miss De Soto Heritage

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.

Sisterhood of the Crown

Sisterhood 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.

Nominate Someone For Queens Court

Queen's Court Inquiry

Community Grant

Exchange Program



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.

Apply Now



Opportunities are available to support the Hernando de Soto Historical Society's mission through sponsorship and advertising.

Learn More


Fostering and facilitating an appreciation of Manatee County’s Spanish - American heritage and cultural alliances through special events, community collaborations and charitable giving Since 1939

605 17th Ave W 
Bradenton, FL 34205
(941) 747-1998
Mon - Fri: 9:00 - 5:00 
Sat - Sun: Closed