Pageant 2

By Matt Helm


The Boone County Fair pageant always is one of the highlights for the Boone County Fair. The 2016 fair pageant was no exception to that precedent.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, the Boone County Fair pageant started at 7:30 p.m. with a magical evening set to the theme of “Christmas at the Fair.”

“It’s definitely warm tonight for Christmas at the fair, but we are going to have some fun tonight,” pageant MC Steve Summers said.

Summers and Stephanie Aves co-hosted the pageant together, welcoming the crowd to the opening night of the fair and introduced Quierra Sample who opened the show with the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Afterward, the 20 Little Miss contestants arrived on stage in a horse drawn carriage with the eight Miss Boone County pageant contestants arriving after their youthful counterparts.

Pageant 4The Christmas pageant theme couldn’t be complete without the addition of Santa Clause who arrived with 2015 Boone County Fair Queen Jilliana Paul and 2015 Little Miss Melrose Martinez.

“Santa Clause is the hottest man in Boone County with that suit on,” Summers said.

Once Santa Clause arrived, the contestants introduced themselves, and then, Summers shared information about last year’s winners.

Summers said Paul was “happy to promote her 4H group and eat delicious fair donuts” during her reign. Martinez, who is starting fourth grade, shared her love for reading and dancing and enjoyed the deep fried Oreos at the fair.

With the introductions complete, the 2015 Queen and 2015 Little Miss joined the queen contestants in a dance number set to “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.”

“We are going to start the show off with style,” Aves said of the performance.

After the performance, the judges, past contestants, and the Keene Age Center Queen were introduced. Keene Age Center Queen Mary Lindbergh is a world traveler who enjoys playing cards and making friends at the center.

Next, queen contestants prepared for swimsuit competition, formal wear, and fishbowl questions.

“They have to represent Boone County, so they have to be able to think and speak on the spot,” Summers said.

Contestant Hannah Paige Gustafson answered the fishbowl question: Why would she be famous?

“I would be famous for my good deeds for others and the philanthropies. Thank you,” Gustafson said.

Pageant 3The Little Miss’s were judged on interviews, stage presence, and their enthusiasm in their Sunday interview.

Before the Little Miss winner and the top three queen contestants were announced, Martinez and Paul shared their experiences representing Boone County.

“It has been an honor representing Boone County. I will never forget that night I heard my name called. I have made memories to last. Good luck! You are all winners to me,” Martinez said.

Paul reflected the same enthusiasm in her farewell speech.

“I remember standing backstage just a year ago. I’ll never forget that moment my name was called,” Paul said. “I had the honor of representing 4H, but most importantly, I connected with the people of Boone County. The support I received made me more proud. I represent the best county in the state of Illinois; I am forever proud to call home. This pageant has taught me so much. I am now ready to pass on my crown with a heavy but full heart. Soak up every minute and have pride for the name you wear across your heart.”

The top three queen contestants were announced after Paul’s speech. The top three were narrowed down to Hannah Riley, Hannah Gustafson, and Shannon Hart.

Each of the three finalists had to answer questions to compete for the crown.

The first question went to Riley: “In 2017, there will be a new moving coming out about Wonder Woman. What do you think defines a Wonder Woman?’

“I think she’s confident and isn’t afraid to speak her mind,” Riley said. “We don’t need men to save the day.”

The announcer also asked Riley: “What do you think has been the most important thing to you growing up in Boone County?”

“My education comes first,” Riley said. “It’s the first step you take in life.”

Gustafson was next and received the same questions.

“I think it’s [Wonder Woman] defined by the inner beauty she has and the confidence,” Gustafson.

As for her experience growing up in Boone County, Gustafson said that the fair was always the highlight of her youth.

Hart went last for the question and answer portion of the evening.

“I believe it [Wonder Woman] is her intelligence and her personality,” Hart said.

As for her experience in Boone County, Hart said that the Boone County Fair gave the community a chance to come together and to eat great food together.

“I know only one of you can be queen, but in my heart, you are all queens,” President Lyle Lee said as he readied to present the winner with a lifetime pass to the Boone County Fair.

With that, Little Miss went to Avery Torres, while the other Little Miss contestants received flowers for their efforts.

Then, the non-finalists received awards for their efforts in competition.

Most Photogenic went to Braylee Cebuhar.

Miss Interview went to Lexi Tintlemann.

The Go for the Gold award, for the most improved contestant, went to Rebecca Houlihan.

Miss Congeniality (which can go to any contestant) went to Shannon Hart.

Finally, the 2016 Boone County Fair Queen was crowned: Hannah Paige Gustafson.

Second runner up went to Hannah Riley, and first runner up went to Shannon Hart.

Many sponsors made the Boone County Fair pageant possible. Byron Bank sponsored the pageant, while other organizations contributed food, time, money, trophies, flowers, and energy to support the pageant.

These other organizations included: Alpine Bank, Barr’s Flowers, the Belligerent Republican Boone County Fair Association, the Boone County Journal, the Boone County Shopper, Rachel Boyce, The Brick Café, the Community Building Complex of Boone County, Culvers, McDonalds, Ned’s Restaurant, and O’Brien’s and Dobbins Pharmacy.

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