Ashley Bauer’s dream came true Sunday night when she was crowned 2012 Warren County Fair Queen.
Bauer, a 2012 graduate of Warrenton High School, was selected at the annual coronation ceremony, one of the highlights of the opening day of the Fair.
Bauer was radiant on the main stage with 13 other young women dressed in evening gowns, each demonstrating remarkable grace and cheer despite withering heat and humidity.
“I’ve wanted this since I was 8 years old,” said Bauer after the coronation as friends, family and others stormed the stage to congratulate her.
Bauer was crowned by 2011 Fair Queen Megan Zykan. She received a $1,000 scholarship as the top finisher. Bauer also was recognized as winner of the speech competition and sold the most fair tickets as part of the annual contestants’ pre-fair ticket-selling activity.
Bauer, who was sponsored by Gastorf Chevrolet, plans to attend William Woods University in the fall and major in equine science.
In a high-pressure, high-fun competition that began back in April, Bauer said the thing that made her the most nervous was managing her evening gown. She had to focus on not tripping during the event.
Bauer and her fellow contestants got the competition off to a rousing start with a dance routine choreographed to the country song and Fair theme, “Giddy on Up, Giddy on Down.” In a departure from other years, the girls opened the ceremonies by wearing country attire – jean skirts and shorts, country blouses and boots.
The stage backdrop was a barn front designed by Carol Peper, with Darron Owenby, Clinton Owenby, and Zach Couch assisting in the setup.
“Having the girls be able to dance in fun, comfortable clothes, then break to change into their gowns was a nice way to start the evening,” saidChristy Bonstell, who organized the Fair Queen contest with Vickie Vohsen and Andrea Vohsen.
“So much hard work went into this by everyone; it’s nice to have a good and appreciative crowd especially in this heat,” said Bonstell.
Laney Woolf sang and played acoustical guitar as the girls changed clothes in air-conditioned trailers behind the stage. Dan Dieckmann was emcee for the evening.
First runner-up in the competition was Elisa Ward, sponsored by Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance – John Nordwald. She receives a $500 scholarship. Ward, who won top honors in the interview portion of the competition, plans to attend the University of Missouri-Columbia in the fall to major in agriculture education with a minor in agriculture economics.
“This was a very tough competition,” said Ward, “but I really enjoyed getting to know everyone and going through it together.”
The top four finalists included second runner-up Arielle Cotner, sponsored by Electric Beach Tanning Salon, and third runner-up Lauren Reagan, sponsored by Hunter Modular Construction. They received $400 and $300 scholarships, respectively. Cotner, who is studying nursing at the University of Missouri-Columbia, won the evening gown competition.
Reagan will start college at the University of Missouri in the fall, majoring in strategic communications.
Kayla Hartzell was selected by her fellow contestants as Miss Congenialty. She received a gift basket of items valued at $500 donated by local businesses.
“This is the best compliment you can get — to be voted on by your peers,” said Hartzell, who was sponsored by A-1 Nails.
Bauer and the queen contestants will participate in Fair events throughout the week.