One night this month, dozens of women from across the state will compete in two Western Kentucky State Fair pageants.
The Miss WKSF and Mrs. WKSF pageants are slated for June 22 at the fairgrounds convention center, 2810 Richard St.
Carolyn Cobb, chairperson of the WKSF pageant committee, said these events are beneficial to the contestants.
She said they promote "self-esteem, poise, learning to be in front of people and self-confidence, especially if they tend to be a little bit shy, it's good for them to get out in the public."
Miss WKSF will be held at 7:30 p.m. June 22. Each contestant must have reached her 16th birthday by Oct. 31, 2019, and cannot have reached her 22nd birthday by the same date.
A contestant must be single, never been married, never had a marriage annulled, and never had any children or be pregnant at the present time.
"Our fair pageant is open and there are 120 counties in Kentucky, so each county can send somebody," Cobb said. "Most of our participants in the pageant come from western Kentucky in the Pennyrile area. We've had them as far away as Murray."
Contestants compete in conventional one-piece swimsuits and formal, full-length dresses.
Although there is not an interview segment in the Miss pageant, Cobb said the contestants introduce themselves and their sponsors in front of the audience.
"You can see some of their personality and how they react in front of a microphone," she said.
Contestants must be Kentucky residents. They are judged on beauty, poise and appearance, Cobb said.
The fee is $50 for each entry by sponsor only. The sponsor banner will be provided by the fair board.
The Miss WKSF pageant is a preliminary contest for the Miss Kentucky County Fair pageant next January at the Galt House in Louisville.
"That's quite a big deal," Cobb said, noting that 90 girls from across the state compete for cash prizes.
Because the county pays dues to the Kentucky Association of County Fairs and Horse Shows, the Miss WKSF qualifies to compete at state, Cobb said.
Two queens from the Hopkinsville fair pageant won the state competition in 1975 and 1976, and others have placed in the top five.
"A lot of girls are in what they call the 'pageant circuit.' They just enjoy entering different pageants around the state," Cobb said. "In order to enter state, they have to win one, of course. Sometimes if they don't win the first one they're in, they'll try for the next one."
In the decades-long history of the pageant, Cobb said participants have developed friendships that last into their college years.
"It's just a fun event," Cobb said. "They get to meet other girls and some friendships have been formed. (They develop) a camaraderie with the other girls."
Cobb said some teens and young women who participate in the Miss WKSF pageant have also competed in the Mrs. WKSF pageant.
The Mrs. WKSF pageant will be at 5:30 p.m. June 22. Contestants in the Mrs. pageant must be at least 20 years old, married, a U.S. citizen and resident of Kentucky. Military spouses are eligible.
"It gives you a night to feel beautiful, to get all dolled up and go out on a date with your husband when it's all over," said Melissa Henderson, pageant coordinator. "It's a chance to have some fun with other ladies in the community."
Henderson, a former contestant, took the reins as coordinator two years ago. As a regional pageant, women from across the Pennyrile region and all of western Kentucky are eligible.
"You can meet a lot of interesting people who can become lifelong friends," she said.
Contestants will show in evening gown and casualwear. Finalists will be interviewed.
"The announcer reads what they have written about their hobbies and their lives and why they entered the Western Kentucky State Fair Mrs. Pageant," Henderson said. "They usually ask
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them to tell us something we don't know about you already. We've had ladies who hunted snakes and one who was bitten by a snake. To me, it's interesting to hear things they tell you (and) wouldn't know just by meeting these people. It's the stories behind the ladies."
Henderson said the Mrs. WKSF pageant is a confidence builder for all women.
"Yes, they are competing, but these ladies are genuinely happy even if they don't win," she said. "These ladies build each other up."
Each Mrs. WKSF contestant must have her own sponsor. The sponsor is responsible for the $45 entry fee. The banner will be provided by the fair board.
Entry forms and rules for both the Miss and Mrs. WKSF pageants are available on the fair website, http://www.westernkystatefair.org. Entries for the Miss pageant are due by June 14. Entries for Mrs. pageant are due June 18.
Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3242 or firstname.lastname@example.org.