Preparing for the fair: Changes for pageant

Taylor Childs was crowned Shenandoah County Fair queen last year. Courtesy photo by Denise Jane Portrait Design

Girls and young women from Shenandoah County soon will have a chance to wear a pageant crown and sash representing the Shenandoah County Fair.

Tiffany Newland and Bridgette Fisher have been directing the Shenandoah County Fair Scholarship Pageant since 2011, and Fisher said every year their family increases with new entrants.

They said the girls who enter range from pageant veterans to nervous first-timers, but the most important outcome is the positive energy and camaraderie the pageant creates.

“They don’t have to have professional hair and makeup; they don’t have to have the most expensive dress,” Fisher said. “In the end it’s about having fun and making friends.”

The registration fees this year are $40 for contestants ages 2 to 9 and $50 for contestants ages 10 to 22, lowered from a $55 blanket fee last year.

Winners in the Miss division can also look forward to scholarship prizes. The Miss Queen will receive a $700 scholarship prize after her yearlong reign, the first runner up Miss will receive a $200 scholarship prize, and the second runner up Miss will receive a $100 scholarship prize.

Contestants will be divided into seven categories this year: Tiny Miss for ages 2 and 3, Little Miss for ages 4 to 6, Young Miss for ages 7 to 9, Pre-Teen Miss for ages 10 to 12, Jr. Teen Miss for ages 13 and 14, Teen Miss for ages 15 and 16 and Miss for ages 17 to 22. Fisher and Newland eliminated the Baby Miss category and split the Jr Teen Miss and Teen Miss categories.

Newland said they welcome all Shenandoah County girls with distinct, vibrant personalities and a flair for the fair.

“We want somebody that wants to be a fair queen for the right reason,” she said. “We want somebody that is about the fair, for one thing. You have to have a passion for the fair.”

In past years, queens have spent their fair evenings entertaining the crowds in cheerleading performances, exhibiting at the 4-H and FFA livestock shows and enjoying the festivities alongside members of the community.

This year, queens are only required to attend the traditional ribbon cutting ceremony the morning of Aug. 23. As the Shenandoah County Fair opens just before school starts, the directors don’t want their contestants feeling pressured to choose between pageant duties and school or family commitments.

After the festivities at the fair end and things settle down, Fisher and Newland begin the process of preparing the Miss Queen for the 2016 Miss Virginia Association of Fairs (VAF) Pageant in January. There, the queen will meet other fair pageant queens and have her chance at winning the pageant’s $2,000 scholarship prize.

This past January, the pageant’s Miss Queen Taylor Childs, of Strasburg, became first runner up at the VAF pageant, wishing Miss VAF Megan Greber the best as she went on to compete in Miss Virginia. The Shenandoah County Fair supports the Miss Queen by paying for her VAF pageant registration fee, lodging costs and meals.

Fisher and Newland will hold the final orientation for the Shenandoah County Fair Pageant at 5 p.m. Sunday, which is also the last date they will accept applications. The pageant itself will be held on Aug. 22 at Central High School with separate morning and evening programs for different age category groups.

Find out more about the pageant and read the contestant packet at http://www.shencofair.com/view.php?2015-scholarship-pageant.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com