For Immediate Release: Jan. 21, 2019
Contact: Charlyn Fargo Ware
The Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs held its 109th annual convention at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Springfield, Illinois January 18th thru 20th, 2019.
One of the highlights of the annual event is the Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Pageant, held Jan. 20. Alexi Bladel, 19, of Rockford was crowned the 60th Miss Illinois County Fair queen. Bladel represented Winnebago County at the 109th Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention on Sunday. She is currently attending Rock Valley College to obtain an Associate Degree in Fire Science and become a firefighter. Bladel will be a summer employee of the Department of Agriculture. She will travel to about 30 county fairs, and will be the official hostess of the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fair. As queen, Bladel’s main duty is to emphasize the importance of agriculture and county fairs to Illinois.
Jamie Franck of Henry County was named the first runner up, Teaghan Callaway of Lake County was named the second runner up, Grace Mongan of Ogle County, was named third runner up, and Addison Osman of Union County, was named 4th runner up.
“This was a dream come true,” said Bladel after being crowned. “ My mom was a queen in Vermillion County and competed at state and I’ve always wanted to do this. I hope to be an ambassador and promote agriculture.”
Bladel grew up on a small family farm in Vermillion County before the family moved to Rockford. Her grandfather was fire chief, and she hopes to follow in his steps. She graduated high school at age 17 and attended beauty school, then enrolled in college to be a firefighter and apply when she turns 21.
The top 15 finalists were: Chloe Leonard of Sangamon County; Grace Mongan of Ogle County, Savanna Long of Morgan County, Addison Osman of Union County, Madison Baillard of Warren County, Alexi Bladel of Winnebago, Mia Brandenburg of Farmer City/DeWitt County, Olivia Telgmann of Shelby County, Anni Iberson of Macoupin County, Jamie Franck of Henry County, Olivia Lorenzo of McHenry County, Alexis Carlock of Cass County, Lyndsey Neukomm of Iroquois County, Teaghan Callaway of Lake County and Billi Jo Shank of Georgetown in Vermillion County.
Non-finalist awards went to: Taylor Stocks of Jersey, Ruby Crum Memorial Award; Baylie Devall of Marion, Best personal interview; Taylor Stocks of Jersey, Best in Communication Skills; Samantha Trout of Richland, Best in Stage Presence; Kierstyn Allen of Edgar, Best in Beauty and Physique competition. Mary Marley of Lawrence County was the People’s Choice Award Winner.
Earlier at the IAAF annual convention, Talent Show winners were chosen. Winner in the senior division went to Madalyn Schmitt of Ford County with a vocal solo; second place went to Alexis Krones with a dance solo; third place went to Enrica Uhlen of DuPage County with a vocal solo; fourth place went to Ryleigh Turner of Jersey County with a Classical Point Dance solo and fifth place went to Elaine Hibbert of Georgetown Fair.
In the Junior Division Talent Show, Leah Hoffman of Morgan County was the winner with a dance solo; second place went to the Jazz Dance group from the Richland County fair; third place went to a Jazz Dance group at the Scott County Fair; fourth place went to Zoe Dodd of Marion County with a vocal solo and fifth place went to Katharine Kostner of DuPage County with a Ukulele solo.
In total, this year's convention had more than 3,000 in attendance