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By Shelby R. Farrell
BELVIDERE – Two local girls had their wishes come true Tuesday night, as they were crowned Miss Boone County and Little Miss Boone County.
Jilliana Marie Paul, 18, and Melrose Martinez, 8, will reign in their respective titles for the next year, starting with various festivities throughout the week of the fair.
“I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little girl,” Paul said. “I was born in Boone County, and I’ve been at the fair every single year and always looked up to the queens.”
Paul said she never competed in the Little Miss Boone County pageants when she was younger because she was too shy, but when former Miss Boone County Savanna Peters spoke to Paul’s 7th grade class, she became inspired to follow her dreams of becoming a queen herself.
“I was so shy when I was little,” she said. “I never thought I would get to do something like this.”
Last year, Paul got a taste of royalty when she won runner-up at the Miss Boone County pageant to 2014 Miss Boone County, Clairissa Lein. Paul said the competition was tough this year, and any of the eight other competitors could have won.
The Miss Boone County 2015 contestants rode into the Grandstand arena at the Boone County Fair on the back of motorcycles driven by local fire fighters. They danced, modeled swimwear, answered current event questions out of a fishbowl, and twirled across the stage in their evening gowns.
The 20 contestants competing for Little Miss Boone County 2015 were asked about themselves, and one-by-one they too twirled across the stage in their gowns. Martinez said she competed last year when Kenzie Lusz won the Little Miss Boone County 2014 title. She said she had a lot of fun, which made her want to compete again.
“It feels good to win, and I’m really excited,” she said. “You get to go to a lot of things, and you have to smile a lot and take pictures.”
While Martinez is excited to go to events throughout the year, she said being Little Miss Boone County is about more than taking pictures. It’s about helping the community.
“You just need to be there for anyone who needs help, and I just want to be helpful and everything, and it’s really fun when you do it,” she said.
Martinez will be by Paul’s side all year as they try to help the community. Paul said she is ready for her role as a spokesperson for the county.
“It’s my responsibility to step up and represent Boone County to the best of my ability,” she said. “I know this year’s gonna be awesome, and I can’t wait to get it started.”

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