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Knox County Fair Queen Pageant Draws Hundreds

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 475

PageantThe Orpheum Theater in Galesburg was near capacity for Sunday night’s Knox County Fair Queen Pageant.

Outfits, hair, and make-up all had to be tended to as 46 participants readied themselves for the friendly competition. Judges with previous experience and numerous qualifications selected winners from three different age categories, last night.

18-year-old Savannah Ojeda of Galesburg was named the 2014 Knox County Fair Queen. She tells WGIL that she was in shock after the announcement.

“The preparation is a lot longer than what it would seem,” says Ojeda. “Our practices start a week in advance, but I’ve been preparing for months, I had a great time doing the pageant last year and I was happy to do it again this year.”

Ojeda replaces last year’s winner Katie Allen and will go on to compete at a state level pageant.

Apart from their carefully selected outfits, participants were allowed to showcase their skills. Categories included public speaking, dance production numbers, and for the older competitors: swim-wear.

Pageant Organizer Marlo Abernathy tells WGIL the pageant went smoothly this year, but sending off last year’s winners is difficult.

“It’s sometimes really bittersweet to watch them grow-up and watch them grow over the years and watch them become adults and some of them I’ve watched grow, graduate from college and now have families of their own, so it’s really difficult to say goodbye to some of these girls,” says Abernathy.

Although plenty of notoriety comes with being crowned Knox County Fair Queen, 16 of the competitors were vying for the Junior Miss title. The Junior Miss position comes with the responsibility of appearing at numerous community events.

This year’s winner was 11-year-old Erica Copeland who attends Churchill Junior High. She’ll be replacing Montana Bernett in the role. She tells WGIL she had her friend pinch her to make sure it was real.

“I practiced my speech over, and over, and over again,” says Copeland. ” I came to practice the step-step-turn, it was probably the thing that I really needed to work on, so I needed to work on my walk. I just can’t believe this is real.”

The pageant attempts to build relationships but, more importantly, seeks to instill healthy levels of confidence in area youth.

Although the Knox County Fair Queen Pageant has an air of competition, the show also comes with what pageant host and WGIL employee Chris Postin called “cuteness.” The Little Miss competition featured 20 competitors from around the area – which drew their fair share of gushing from the crowd.

7-year-old Chesney Secrist of Knoxville was declared the Little Miss winner. She attends Mable Woolsey Elementary and tells WGIL her grandmother helped with her dresses and hair.

“I’m feeling really good,” says Secrist. “I’m excited and…I didn’t know this was going to be like this.”

Secrist takes over the Little Miss title from Ava Johnson.

Although the winners will undertake the majority of the responsibility, runners-up and congeniality winners were also recognized. Volunteers assisted participants with make-up and outfit changes backstage.

The Knox County Fair will take place later this month.