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Miss Jefferson County Fair contest kicks off fair week

By Staff | Aug 9, 2019

Miss Jefferson County Fair 2018, Valerie Reynolds, surrounded by the runners-up in last year's contest. Toni Milbourne

KEARNEYSVILLE — Opening events for the Jefferson County Fair begin on Aug. 17, as all fair exhibitors bring their animals, crafts and projects to the fairgrounds, to be set up and judged.

Then, as is fair tradition, the Miss Jefferson County Fair contest will take place on the stage that evening at 6:30 p.m.. This year, according to pageant director Roxanne Stagner, 18 young women will be competing for the title.

“The numbers are down in our ‘Miss’ category,” Stagner said this week. “They have been as high as 70 in the past.”

The contestants will be judged in a variety of categories, including overall appearance, poise and how they connect with the audience and the judges.

Following Saturday’s event, two more pageants will occur on Sunday, the Junior Miss at 6:30 p.m. and Little Miss at 1:30 p.m.

“We have 26 contestants for Junior Miss and 49 of the little girls,” Stagner said.

Once selected, the three crown winners will spend their week at the fairgrounds, helping to judge contests, meet fair-goers and pose for photos.

But, the responsibilities don’t stop at the end of fair week. The girls will continue in their roles throughout the year, attending such events as the Ranson Festival, the Charles Town car show, various parades and holiday events.

“I try to keep them involved in the community in positive ways,” Stagner said, mentioning the Jefferson County Fair pageant organizers are active in the local Relay for Life and field a team at the event each year.

“So we hold fundraisers like bake sales and other events all year to help support that,” she said.

According to Stagner, who has headed up the fair competitions for 22 years, the fair contests are not just a “pageant.”

“This builds confidence in these girls,” she said. “They become comfortable talking in front of others, interacting with different types of people and taking pride in themselves.

“Some who have participated have moved all the way through the Miss America pageant. Others have gone on to succeed in ways they may not have without their participation,” Stagner said. “The girls serve as role models no matter where they are. I encourage them to remember that even when it is not fair week, they represent the community.

“It is so much fun to work with these young people,” Stagner said. “I learn so much from them!”

The 2018 fair queens will participate in their final event on Saturday morning, as they ride in the African American Heritage Festival parade in Charles Town, before heading to the fairgrounds to prepare for the evening’s contest. Outgoing Miss Jefferson County Fair Valerie Reynolds will then say her farewells and, at the end of the evening, crown the 2019 winner. On Sunday, Junior Miss Jordan Schneider and Little Miss Brylee Durso will do the same, and the cycle will continue with three freshly-crowned fair queens taking the lead in the week’s activities.