Mercer County Fair Queen Pageant time is here

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Disco fever will hit the Mercer County Fairgrounds Tuesday night as the annual Mercer County Fair queen pageant kicks off at 6:30.

Fair pageant Director Joni Caldwell said the theme this year is the '70s.

"My goal has always been to keep the audience entertained and on their toes. We always have some surprises," Caldwell said, adding, "It's all about the girls."

There are eight contestants for Miss Mercer County, six for Junior Miss and 14 for Little Miss. Caldwell said the number of contestants has been fairly steady since the pageant was revived in 1992 after an absence of nearly 20 years.

"I think the most I've had in the queen competition is 17 and the least was six," she said. "This year, my numbers are down."

There was no funding available from traditional sources for the pageant when it was brought back, so Caldwell raised money through business sponsorships in 1991. She also attended all the county fair queen pageants in the area in 1991 to get ideas. A committee of 22 now helps oversee the event.

"I couldn't make it happen by myself," Caldwell said.

The queen and Little Miss pageants have been held since the pageant's revival. The Junior Miss contest for girls ages 11-13 was added in 2000 to keep the girls' interest between the years of Little Miss and queen pageant eligibility. Little Miss contestants are between the ages of 5 and 7, while the young women in the queen contests must be between 16 and 21.

The girls practiced from 5-9 p.m. every Monday in June to get ready for tonight's pageant. Another big crowd is expected this year, with attendance usually ranging between 750 and 1,000. The pageant is the second biggest grandstand event at the fair, behind the demolition derby, she said.

"It's just a really great community event," Caldwell said.

The Mercer County Fair continues through Saturday.