Area beauties will compete in the annual Fairest of the Fair contest at the Appalachian Fair on Aug. 18.
Contestants will be exhibiting their beauty and charm in the hopes of winning the title of Miss Fairest of the Fair 2014.
“Everybody looks forward to the Fairest of the Fair,” said pageant director Susan Painter. “I remember looking forward to it when I was a little girl.”
The theme of this year’s pageant is “Summer Nights,” a song by the popular country group Rascal Flatts. Painter said that the song will serve as the opening number for the competition, and that contestants will dress in accordance with this theme.
“As far as finances go, I didn’t want to make another expense,” Painter said. “I didn’t want the girls to have to go out and buy a cocktail dress this year. Hopefully, they all have a sundress and a cute pair of sandals; just something cute, appropriate and comfortable to fit in with the theme.”
Painter has served as the pageant’s director for 13 years. Before that, it was directed by the late Sandra Ford, who also served on many other boards for the Appalachian Fair.
“This year’s pageant will be dedicated to her,” Painter said. “She touched so many lives with her work. She had a huge impact on this community, especially the Gray area.”
Contestants, who are ages 16-21, will be judged on their beauty, poise and personality. As part of the competition, they will also be required to participate in a private interview with the contest’s judges the day before they take the stage.
The winner will be awarded the title of Miss Fairest of the Fair 2014. Last year’s title was awarded to Kayla Hobbs of Kingsport.
“If they do win the title of Fairest of the Fair, they will have a full week of responsibilities at the Appalachian Fair,” said Painter. “They will also compete at the state competition in January.”
Painter said that the contestants’ amount of pageant experience varies.
“I would say it’s about half and half,” said Painter. “I have some contestants who have never been in a pageant before, and I have some who have done pageants all their lives.”
The Fairest of the Fair competition has seen a marked decrease in contestants, especially over the past four or five years.
“When I first started, I had close to 40 contestants,” Painter said. “It was crazy.”
That number has dropped to 12 contestants for this year’s contest.
“We don’t really know the reason why,” Painter said. “It could be financial. This isn’t a big scholarship pageant, and it could be that a lot of girls are interested in preliminary pageants for scholarships.”
“I think we do a great job with the pageant, and I don’t think it’s anything to do with the pageant itself,” Painter said. “We have some wonderful young ladies competing, and quality is often much more important than quantity. That’s the way I see it.”
The Fairest of the Fair contest has gained a large audience in the past, and Painter hopes that the same will be true for this year.
“It’s always very well-attended,” Painter said. “And it’s a good way to start the fair.”
Fairest of the Fair 2014 Contestants:
Alexis Black: 17, sponsored by Cochran Landscape Management
Makala Brown: 19, sponsored by Dixie Construction Inc.
Harley Follis: 17, sponsored by Jack’s Service Center
Annie Harrison: 20, sponsored by Pulp
Alexandria Knowles: 16, sponsored by family and friends
Kaitlyn Matheson: 17, sponsored by Wayne Hodge State Farm Insurance
Rebecca Murray: 19, sponsored by Carl’s East End Towing Service
Rachael Rambo: 19, sponsored by Eagle Copters
Hannah Rigsby: 18, sponsored by Richard and Amy Rigsby
Paris Sexton: 18, sponsored by family and friends
Susannah Upchurch: 17, sponsored by Upchurch’s Hardwood
Madison White: 16, sponsored by NN Roller Plant