Pageant Teaches Skills, Bolsters Girls' Confidence

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Byline: Heather Linder hlinder@dailyherald.com

Hannah Smith, Miss McHenry County 2009, will end her reign Wednesday, Aug. 4, and the competition is on to fill her tiara.

The 61st annual McHenry County Fair Queen Pageant will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the grandstand and will feature 20 young women ages 16 to 21 vying for the 2010 title. Between 400 and 500 spectators are expected and admission is free.

Judging takes place in swimsuit and formal attire, and each contestant gives a one-minute speech on stage. The contestants are awarded points for their interview, stage presence, beauty and communication skills. According to pageant Chairwoman Linda Zielinski, the pageant is a great way for young women to learn to speak in public.

"We practice speaking and walking and makeup," said Zielinski, who has worked with the pageant since 1980. "They turn into a whole new person. Their personalities come out."

While the girls are competing to represent the county for the year and go on to the state fair competition, they also get a $2,000 college scholarship to

go along with the crown and sash. …