Cloudy summer skies held back their rain providing a picture perfect afternoon for the opening ceremonies of the 2011 Clarke County Fair. The festivities Sunday afternoon included the welcoming ceremony and two Miss Clarke County pageants. Emcee Rodney Pierce opened the events introducing representatives from local government who welcomed community members to the annual celebration.
Berryville Mayor Wilson Kirby spoke of the many wonderful things to see and do at the fair. He challenged everyone to find something new and to stop by his office and tell him about their new adventures after the fair. He closed by saying, “Have fun, have a great time with this year’s fair, and I expect to have a long line at my office door a week from tomorrow.”
Chairman of the Clarke County Supervisors Michael Hobert spoke about the fair saying:
Most of you that have been here before know this to be a real and true county fair with livestock exhibit, homemade displays, carnival rides and a variety of things to do for young and old alike. A variety of food is available and the Ruritan club continues to offer these terrific dinners every-night. We’re excited to have our friends from the community join us for another great year, our 57th in fact. The fair is our celebration of this year’s harvest. It conveys the county’s appreciation for the agriculture, livestock, and home interests which define and unite our community. It is one of our county’s most appreciated events where, as they say, “New memories are made and old memories are shared.” We believe the fair will offer something special for each of you. On behalf of all of the volunteers and clubs that make this possible and the County of Clarke we again welcome you and wish your family a week filled with moments you’ll keep forever, along with a greater appreciation of what it takes to feed a community.
The fourth annual Junior Miss Clarke County Pageant followed the welcome ceremony with a field of six contestants. Competing this year were: Lauren Beasley, Olivia Lanham, Theresa Baker, Mary Lloyd, Helena St. Clair, and Logan Williams. These talented young ladies each welcomed the crowd to the fair in outfits selected by the contestants that displayed their distinctive personalities. Contestants then walked the stage in evening gowns while emcee Rodney Pierce read biographical information about each young lady.
The top three finalists were then selected. This year’s finalists for Junior Miss Clarke County were Lauren Beasley, Olivia Lanham, and Mary Lloyd.
Each of the finalists were challenged to answer a question picked at random from a pool of questions submitted by all of the contestants. Questions ranged from, “What was the happiest moment of your life and why?” to, “Describe yourself in two words.”
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When the scores were tabulated second runner-up was Lauren Beasley, first runner-up was Mary Lloyd, and the new Junior Miss Clarke County for 2011 went to Olivia Lanham.
Miss Lanham is the 15 year old daughter of Dave and Tammy Lanham of Bluemont. Olivia will be a Sophomore this year at Clarke County High School.
Immediately following the Junior Pageant the crown jewel of the evening commenced with the Miss Clarke County Pageant. This year seven women would vie for the title. As the contestants started the pageant they were introduced to the crowd wearing their “personality wear” that was designed to express their individual qualities and interests. Each contestant welcomed the audience members and told the crowd why they loved Clarke County. This year’s line up included: Britney Leaf, Haleigh Murray, Anna Louthan, Michaela Garrison, Nicole Rajewski, LeslieRae Conner, and Becky Smith.
Drops of rain began to fall as the evening gown portion of the pageant began and organizers scrambled to cover equipment and provide cover for contestants as they entered the stage. Undaunted by the weather, the contestants displayed poise and grace as they completed the preliminary competition. When the scores were tallied, the top three finalists were selected and stepped forward. They were: Anna Louthan, Michaela Garrison, and LeslieRae Conner.
Each of the finalists were asked the same question which remained a secret until they were asked live before the audience. The question was, “If you were stranded on a desert island what is the one thing you would bring with you and why? LeslieRae Conner said she would bring her Bible because it would bring her comfort and that the Lord would provide her every need. Michaela Garrison said she would bring her mom to cook for her and to keep her company and finally, Anna Louthan said she would bring a magnifying glass to start fires.
When the final votes were tabulated the second runner-up was Anna Louthan, first runner-up Michaela Garrison and the new Miss Clarke County for 2011 was LeslieRae Conner.
After the crown was passed Miss Conner said, “I was so surprised. I had my fingers crossed and when they announced my name I was so excited.”
Conner is currently attending Lord Fairfax Community College and works as a substitute teacher in the Clarke County school system.
In addition to having the honor of representing Clarke County in the statewide competition, Miss Conner also received a $500 scholarship from the Clarke County Ruritan.
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