ALTAMONT — It was a bittersweet victory for Anna Carrell of Effingham as she was crowned 2022 Miss Effingham County Fair Queen Tuesday night.

“It really didn’t feel real,” Carrell said. “I’m truly blessed and I’m so excited.”

Carrell is the daughter of Jennifer Wormhoudt and the late Aaron Carrell, who passed in April of this year. He would have been celebrating his birthday on the day of the pageant, Aug. 2.

“The pageant ended up being on my father’s birthday and I felt that was pretty important, so it was really a big day for the both of us,” she said.

The speech Carrell made during the speech competition came from her heart, focused on the relationship she had with her father.

“Growing up, my biggest lessons were tough love and hard work, from school work to perfecting my ballet to even learning how to play guitar. My dad pushed me to never stop working hard towards my goals, grades and achievements,” she said. “As a role model, he showed me the importance of being prompt, knowledgeable, and always compassionate towards others. He trained me to think outside the box and never give up when things got hard.”

She said during her speech that almost everything she does in life comes from motivation she received from her father, whose life was taken on April 12 of this year due to cancer.

“As heartbroken as it left me, the impact of his values and lessons have grown immensely. Every time I put on my dance shoes or maybe take on an extra challenging project I can hear my Dad’s wise words echo through my head, ‘Hard work and self-belief harbors success,’” said Carrell.

She said her Dad’s inspiration is something she will carry with her forever.

“As I stand alongside these beautiful women on stage, I know my Dad is with me. Thank you Dad and Happy Birthday.”

Carrell was also named Most Photogenic in addition to 2022 Miss Effingham County Queen.

She said after the pageant she is ready to take on her new responsibilities as queen.

“I look forward to attending all of the 4-H shows bright and early in the morning and spending the rest of the week at the fair.”

Carrell said she was inspired to compete for the title after former Miss Effingham County Fair Queen Taylor Hartke reached out to her.

“We had danced together in the past and I’ve never done a pageant before and she said, ‘Hey, you’ve been a dancer and you’ve been on stage and maybe this is for you.’ So I thought why not just try it.”

“I would like to thank my family and the Vonderheide family and all of my friends who came here tonight to support me,” said Carrell.

Riley Arend was honored as First Runner-Up, Kyandra Zerrusen as Second Runner-Up, and Kaylynn Moeller as Third Runner-Up. Other awards presented to the candidates before the crowning of queen included Highest Ticket Sales to Kyandra Zerrusen and Biggest Fan Club to the candidate selling the most T-Shirts to Riley Arend.

The queen candidates were interviewed by the judges earlier Tuesday at the Thelma Keller Convention Center and the judges selected Miss Effingham County Fair based on 35% interview skills, 20% evening gown, 20% physical fitness and swimsuit, 20% on stage speech and 5% on pop questions.

There were three pageant judges Tuesday night: Jane Cross of Olney, Nathan Gentz of Edwards County and Brooke Earnest of Mulberry Grove.

Cross is a retired pageant director for the Miss Richland County queen pageant — a position she held for 27 years. She has coached four Richland County queens to win the title of Miss Illinois County Fair and been a certified pageant judge.

Gentz is director of the Miss Edwards County fair queen pageant — a position he has held since 2016 — and member and Zone Chairperson for the southern zone of the Illinois Pageant Director’s Association.

Earnest is the former Director of the Bond County Fair queen pageant — a position she held for 18 years. She has been secretary of the Illinois Pageant Director’s Association and employed as office manager for the past 24 years at the Bond County Probation Department.

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 618-510-9226 or 217-347-7151 ext. 300126.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.