Pageant Coordinator Marcia Kray, Rachel Ross, Lauren Ries, Natalie Newhard, Shannon Morris, Jaelyn Kraus, Olivia Goodyear, Cassie Gillmore, Sophia Alrichs, 2018 Great Jones County Fair Queen Marissa Recker and 2018 Great Jones County Fair Princess Jessi Welter pose for a picture after the pageant held July 7.


Eight local candidates took to the stage July 7, with a packed Monticello Eagles Club supporting them, in an attempt to capture the crown of Great Jones County Fair Queen in the 20th year of the competition.

Pageant Coordinator Marcia Kray took time to thank Marilyn Streeper, Donna Robinson, Linda Kahler and General Manager John Harms for deciding to start the competition two decades earlier so the county could be represented at the state fair.

“They called me and asked me, ‘Could I put a pageant together?’ and it’s been an awesome and crazy 20 years,” Kray said. “We’ve been very blessed and honored to have outstanding young women represent us at the Iowa State Fair.”

In turn, each candidate striving to wear the crown, Sophia Alrichs, Cassie Gillmore, Olivia Goodyear, Jaelynn Kraus, Shannon Morris, Natalie Newhard, Lauren Ries and Rachel Ross, introduced themselves with a quirky fact as the pageant got underway.

From there, the costume contest began, where contestants performed a skit that explained, “What the Great Jones County Fair Means to Me.” A display of their musical talents was a popular route to take for the contestants. Alrichs played the saxophone, Gillmore parodied “L.O.V.E.” with a twist, Goodyear parodied “Humble and Kind,” with some help from a cardboard Tim McGraw cutout and Ross discussed showing sheep to the tune of “You’re Gonna Miss This” by Trace Adkins.

Other skits included Kraus roping her favorite parts of the fair--a strawberry smoothie, Tim McGraw and a horse, Morris reported on the fair from a bovine perspective, Newhard provided a life-size demonstration of how to make a deep-fried Oreo and Ries did some Great Jones County Fair-themed Jeopardy.

From there, contestants changed into their formal gowns and, after parading around the room, were brought up on stage one by one to answer the question, “In the words of Tim McGraw, how would you ‘Live Like You Were Dying?” Answers ranged from “skydiving and Rocky Mountain climbing,” to traveling and spending time with loved ones.

They then picked a random question from the jar. By far the toughest question of the night went to Lauren Ries, who was asked how to handle the topic of illegal immigration. The crowd felt she navigated the question by diplomatically answering that it should be left to the president, earning applause and laughs from the audience.

Following dinner with the finalists, the judges made the decision on who would be crowned Great Jones County Fair Queen, as well as princess and Miss Congeniality, but that decision will remain sealed until the coronation July 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the amphitheater stage.

The winning candidate will be entered in to the Iowa State Fair Queen competition, representing the county there and at other events, and earn a scholarship, along with other perks.

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