Queen Pageant held in conjunction with Jasper County Youth Fair

By Aaron Kessler

Globe Staff Writer

CARTHAGE, Mo. - Both beauty and brains were on display Sunday as the Queen Pageant returned to Carthage to kick off the annual Jasper County Youth Fair.

More than 300 people packed Bykota Church to watch eight young women compete for the coveted title of "Jasper County Youth Fair Queen." Eleven girls also vied to be crowned "Princess," and two 5-year-olds hoped to become "Little Miss."

Victoria Mathews, 18, of Carthage was crowned the new queen for 2003 and will represent Jasper County at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.

Mathews performed a multimedia presentation titled "The Heart of an American Farmer" during the talent competition, in which she championed the role of farming.

With a slide show of photographs projected above her, Mathews told the audience that as a young woman growing up in a farm family, she learned what it takes to work hard. During the impromptu question-and-answer portion of the competition, she said the new queen should "not be afraid of getting a little dirty in the show ring."

As queen, Mathews will not only get to compete at the Missouri State Fair, but also will receive a scholarship to Missouri Southern State College. She plans to continue her studies in criminal justice and hopes to become a sheriff's deputy.

The contestants exhibited an array of talents, including playing the flute, clogging and singing spirituals. Nicole Johannes, later named "Miss Congeniality," drew a picture on stage.

Katie Madsan, pageant coordinator, said the girls had been preparing for the pageant since April. She praised all the contestants.

"I believe each one has the heart to be 'Jasper County Fair Queen,'" Madsan said. "I'm very proud."

Madsan would know; she is a former queen of the fair. And while in the end Mathews did come away with the crown, all the contestants were given a gift basket.

Latricia Atkins, 13, was crowned "Princess." She hopes to become a dentist.

Five-year-old Dorothy Sims came away with the title "Little Miss," and although she has yet to choose between being a veterinarian or a rock star, she's quite firm in her dislike for broccoli.

Other winners in the "Queen" category included first runner-up Jennifer Holzwarth, 20; second runner-up Victoria Cooper, 17; and Nicole Johannes, 19, who won not only "Miss Congeniality," but also the pageant's Participation Award.

In the "Princess" category, other winners included first runner-up Julie Ziler, 12; second runner-up and "Miss Congeniality" Erin Woody, 11; and Participation Award-winner Kristen Greene, 13.

In the "Little Miss" category, Melinda Sue Smith was named runner-up, and both she and "Little Miss" Dorothy Sims received crowns.

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