ALTAMONT — It's fair week and two royalties were busy handing out ribbons in the 4-H livestock show arena on Monday.
One was Hali Kreke of Mason, who was just named Junior Miss Effingham County Fair Sunday evening. Kreke, 12, is the daughter of Travis and Andrea Kreke and a student at Effingham Junior High School.
Kreke was selected from 23 contestants. The Junior Miss category is for girls in sixth, seventh and eighth grades in Effingham County. Categories of the competition are casual wear, party wear and an interview. Each contestant also presents an introduction of herself during the evening pageant.
The first runner-up was Peyton Garrard, 13, of Altamont. She is the daughter of Brian and Amelia Garrard. Second runner-up went to Sophia Niemerg, 12, of Dieterich, the daughter of Chad and Megan Niemerg. Third runner-up was Morgan Turner, 13, of Effingham, the daughter of John and Christine Turner. Fourth runner-up named was Ellie Macklin, 12, of Mason, the daughter of Jay and Emily Macklin.
Kreke was crowned by 2018 winner Annie Frost.
“I was shocked,” said Kreke on Monday. “I’d recommend doing it and I’d do it again. You make a lot of new friends.”
The Junior Miss winner gets a basket of gifts and prizes. Part of her responsibility next summer will be to collect gift donations for next year’s winner. She will also be making appearances at other fairs and festivals and recruiting girls to compete next year.
Helping Kreke in the show ring Monday was 2018 Miss Effingham County Fair Queen Serena Strullmyer, 22, of Altamont. She is about to relinquish her title on Tuesday, when a new queen will be named at 7 p.m. before an expected packed grandstand of onlookers at the fairgrounds. Strullmyer, who is the daughter of Joe and Sherri Strullmyer, will crown the new winner.
There are 11 contestants between the ages of 16 and 21 from Effingham County vying for the title this year.
Strullmyer said she’s been practicing with the incoming contestants, including four of her fellow Altamont High School students.
“I know most of them pretty well,” said Strullmyer. “This is a really fun group of girls and it will be a fun pageant to watch.”
She added that she’s impressed by the support she gets from the fair board and the county, as she represents Effingham County.
“It’s been a busy year, but it’s nice to be able to give back to them,” said Strullmyer.
The reigning queen is a recent graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She has accepted a position as a registered nurse at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.
Contact Dawn Schabbing at email@example.com or 217-347-7151, ext. 138