Payton Carlson named Mercer County Fair Queen

Cala Smoldt Times Record Correspondent
Payton Carlson cries tears of joy as she is crowned 2016 Miss Mercer County Fair by 2015 queen Samantha Jones during the annual queen pageant on Tuesday at the Mercer County Fair Grounds. STEVE DAVIS/Times Record

ALEDO — Mercer County held its 25th fair queen pageant Tuesday evening. The newly crowned 2016 Mercer County Fair Queen is Payton Carlson, Junior Miss is Laila Haley, and Little Miss is Sophia Hodges.

The 2015 Mercer County Fair Queen, Samantha Jones, Junior Miss Miss Christine Mack and Little Miss Macy DeBlock made a grand entrance to begin the ceremony via Lesco Aviation Helicopter — lending to the theme “Time Flies” to make their final appearance as royalty.

Master of Ceremonies and WRMJ Radio General Manager John Hoscheidt congratulated Pageant Director Joni Caldwell on her 25th year as director. The backdrop of the stage featured a giant clock with rotating hands demonstrating how quickly “Time Flies.”

“The longevity of it for me — I have a wonderful crew, some of them have been with me all 25 years,” Caldwell said.

She believes going the extra mile makes the contestants feel special.

“I think putting my whole effort into it, trying to make it beautiful for the girls makes it a proud event for them to be with,” Caldwell said.

Although Tuesday morning’s dreary weather had her worried, Caldwell said, “The thing that’s really dear to me, is that in 25 years I’ve never had rain.”

Each group of girls performed a dance routine to a song fitting with the theme. Queen contestants competed in a swimsuit contest, evening gown and speech. Junior Miss contestants competed in formal dress and speech, Little Miss competed in party dress attire.

Mercer County Fair Pageant winners:

Little Miss Mercer County — Sophia Hodges

Little Miss Photogenic — Honor Hedger

3rd runner-up — Briley Mills

2nd runner-up — Aubrey Salmon

1st runner-up — Skylar Headley

2016 Junior Miss Mercer County — Laila Haley

Miss Congeniality — Lexi Serres

Miss Photogenic — Fern Erickson

2nd runner-up — Brooklyn Newswander

1st runner-up — Mattie Lower

2016 Mercer County Fair Queen — Payton Carlson

Miss Congeniality — Hannah Matt

Miss Photogenic — Elizabeth Langum

3rd runner-up — Jean Erickson

2nd runner-up — Lilah Flickinger

1st runner-up — Elizabeth Langum