The 75th annual Monroe County Fair’s first day concluded with the crowning of its new fair queen and little miss Sunday night.
Sophia Dell, the 18-year-old daughter of Brian and Becky Dell of Waterloo, took the crown this year, replacing 2021 queen Alexis Mudd.
“I really cannot believe this,” Dell said. “I’ve dreamed of this since I was a little girl, so this is such a surreal moment for me. I really can’t believe it.”
She was dressed in a blush V-neck charm charmeuse column gown with gold sequins. Sydenstricker-Nobbe Partners served as her sponsor.
Dell graduated from Waterloo High School in 2022 and will be a freshman at Southern Illinois University of Carbondale this fall. She plans to major in animal nutrition with a minor in ag business and hopes to seek a career in the animal nutrition industry.
Dell is currently employed at the University of Illinois Extension Office in Monroe County. In her free time, she hunts, fishes and works with animals.
Dell had several fine answers through the evening, perhaps most notably responding to the question of “Can you describe Monroe County as a food?”
She responded with the crowd-pleasing answer of fried chicken.
Dell was also able to impress with her personal thoughts on the fair itself, saying, “Personally, what I like best about the Monroe County Fair is the amount of friends and family that I’ve made here.”
Miss Congeniality went to Maddie Reuter, Second Runner-Up went to Lydia Henerfauth and First Runner-Up went to Cadence Shipes.
Dell will serve as fair queen alongside 8-year-old Kelsey Utz, her Little Miss.
Utz is the daughter of Kendra and Shaun Utz of Hecker. She was sponsored by Smiles R Forever and Lisa Meegan/ReMax Preferred.
She wore a white sleeveless high round neck dress with pink floral pattern and cowboy boots with sparkly salmon and blue lines.
Utz was visibly thrilled greeting her parents after the pageant.
“This was my first time ever winning,” Utz said.
Other contestants in the Little Miss Pageant were Blaklee Schwarze, Olivia Mae Simms, Abbigail Jo Faulkner, Alayna Petty, Brielle Tedder, Adel Rau, Alaina Stumpf, Josalynn Demetrulias and Nora Zellerman.
Dell competed against six other contestants in the fair queen pageant.
Contestant number one was Michaela Runge, the 21-year-old daughter of Craig and Christine Runge of Fults. She was dressed in a black, one shoulder gown with full-length sleeve and a diamond-beaded cuff. She was sponsored by First National Bank of Waterloo and Daytime Discoveries.
In her opening speech, the 2019 Waterloo High School graduate spoke about her growth since she was a little girl and how her mother’s help in making clothes for her dolls helped her learn to appreciate hard work.
“‘I hate these dresses! These shoes don’t fit right! And Barbie and Ken don’t even match!’ That was me when I was 7 years old, insisting on going to the store to buy my Barbies a whole new wardrobe,” Runge said.
Lydia Lutman, 18, followed. She is the daughter of Chris and Tricia Lutman of Waterloo and was sponsored by Waterloo Animal Hospital.
Lutman, a 2022 graduate of Waterloo High School, was dressed in a navy blue chiffon A-line with metallic silver floral accents and spaghetti straps. She talked about her experiences presenting sheep at the fair since she was a child.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is exactly what I want everyone to get out of their fair week,” Lutman said. “To learn, to show something off you’re proud of, to lend a helping hand to those who need it, or to even ask for help yourself.”
After her was Shipes, the 18-year-old daughter of Christina and Bryan Massie of Valmeyer. She was sponsored by George Obernagel and Fit Body Boot Camp.
A 2022 Valmeyer High School graduate, Shipes was dressed in a tangerine lamé V-neck sheath column gown and spoke about confidence and risk-taking in her speech.
“Whether it is on the pageant stage or for an FFA office, you too can hear your name if you can just have the courage and just go for it,” Shipes said.
Mary Brinkmann, 18, was next up. She is the daughter of Christy Brinkmann and the late Duanne Brinkmann of Waterloo. She is a December 2021 graduate of Waterloo High School and was sponsored by Brinkmann Heating and Cooling, Gilbert Electric and the Backyard Learning Center.
Dressed in a navy blue charmeuse V-neck empire gown with mid-waist train and diamond broach, she discussed what her idea of family was in response to a question later in the pageant.
“Family is the people that are loyal, kind, and close to your heart,” Brinkmann.
Next up, was Lydia Henerfauth, 17, who was sponsored by Monroe County Electric Co-Op and Thoma & Associates Tax Service. She is the daughter of Ray and Julie Henerfauth of Fults.
Henerfauth, an incoming senior at Valmeyer High School, wore a black high collar column gown with full-length purple and gold metallic vertical wave accents and talked about the importance of the county fair in her life.
“Every year, I make memories here with my family, friends and this agriculture community that I’m proud to be a part of,” Henerfauth.
After Henerfauth was Dell, who was followed by Reuter.
Reuter, 17, is the daughter of Beth Hand and David Reuter of Waterloo. She was sponsored by Studio B Dance Company and is a 2022 graduate of Waterloo High School.
Reuter spoke about the effect the pageant has had on her while dressed in a white brocade V-neck column gown with a metallic gold floral pattern.
“Since entering, my appreciation for what really matters has grown so much,” Reuter said. “I have learned how truly important agriculture is to not only Monroe County and our country, but the world.”