PRINCETON — For the first time in six years, the Miss Bureau County Fair Queen pageant will be exclusively for Bureau County contestants.
On Monday, pageant Director Tracey Diehl said there are currently 18 Miss contestants, all from Bureau County, with that number possibly even increasing due to possible website applications which have not yet been tallied.
The Bureau County Fair Board had decided earlier this year if there were at least 10 Bureau County contestants, the Miss pageant would not be opened this year to surrounding counties, which had been the practice for the past several years, Diehl said.
The Miss pageant had been opened to surrounding counties when Bureau County participation numbers had dropped drastically, so much so that one year there was only three contestants and one of those contestants had to drop out, Diehl said. In an effort to keep the Miss Queen program going, the fair board opened the pageant to surrounding counties, she said.
Looking at the decision to open the Miss pageant to neighboring counties, Diehl said she had heard people say that even if they had one (Bureau County) girl enter, so be it — just let her be the queen. In theory that is OK, but Diehl said when the girl headed down to Springfield, she would be completely overwhelmed, plus a girl who was handed the crown would not be prepared to compete against 71 other girls. That would be so unfair to the girl to walk into that, she said.
“This year’s pageant is completely girls from Bureau County. A lot of people worked hard to get that many girls in the pageant, and I hope that effort continues in the future,” Diehl said.
Practices begin this week for the 2014 pageant which is set for Aug. 3 at Princeton High School.
Describing the criteria for judging the Miss contestants, Diehl said the contestants will have a four-minute interview with a panel of three judges, who come from outside the area. The interview accounts for the majority of the contestant’s score. Contestants are also judged on a one- minute speech they have prepared on basically any topic, with the speech having the second highest percentage of their score. Contestants are also judged on their evening gown, which is a dress of their choice, and then finally the “dreaded swimsuit,” which is the lowest percentage of scores. The Bureau County Pageant is patterned after the Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Pageant, which is held each January in Springfield.
“I have always found pageants to be a learning experience for the girls. We are not like the Toddlers and Tiara’s pageants at all,” Diehl said.
The main focus of the Miss pageant competition is on the interview process as well as the speech, Diehl said.
“Each one of these girls will eventually have a job interview, and we want to make sure the girls do learn some interviewing skills. And most (of the girls) will eventually have to give some sort of presentation in front of people, so being able to give a speech in front of a crowd does come in handy,” Diehl said. “While we focus on learning, we like to sprinkle in some fun as well. I think we do a good job with that part.”
Diehl said she is proud of the girls who have represented Bureau County as its queen in recent years. Miss Bureau County 2009 Jordan Diehl is a manager of an event company in Chicago; Miss Bureau County 2010 Leah Metcalf is a veterinarian major in Chicago; Miss Bureau County 2011 Hannah Sheley is a teaching student with a minor in Spanish and a member of the Illinois State University circus; Miss Bureau County 2012 Tiana Maupin works for Oh La La in Princeton and is a hair dresser; and the current queen, Ashley Simmon, is majoring is physical therapy and hopes to work with disabled veterans after graduation, Diehl said.
“These young women have set the bar high, and I have no doubt the 2014 Miss Bureau County will continue with that trend. We are excited to get started,”she said.
In addition to the Miss Bureau County Fair Queen pageant contestants, there are 14 Junior Miss contestants and 19 Little Miss contestants. The Little Miss pageant will begin at 3 p.m. Aug. 3, with the Junior and Miss pageants following, and running together as they did last year, Diehl said.
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