By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Miss Adams County Fair Montanna Neisen says she's enjoying the opportunity to represent the county at a statewide competition.
Neisen competes this week in the 2013 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen pageant.
"It's been a blast," said the 17-year-old senior at Liberty High School.
The competition takes place during the 103rd annual Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs Convention at the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Express in Springfield.
The 2013 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen will be the official hostess to the 2013 Illinois and DuQuoin state fairs. She also will travel throughout the state this summer to promote county fairs and the state fairs.
Pageant rehearsals began Thursday and "went very well," Neisen said. "We took a lot of pictures. We learned our production numbers at the end of the night."
She interviews with pageant judges on Friday, then competes Saturday afternoon in the preliminaries.
"I will be competing in the evening gown, swimsuit and then the speech," Neisen said. "You choose a topic for the speech. I'm doing mine on my brother Brady who has Down syndrome."
The top 15 of the 72 contestants will be announced at a Sunday banquet, then they compete again in the three categories to decide a winner.
"My goal for this pageant is to get in the top 15," Neisen said. "It would mean the world to me."
Neisen has been busy preparing for the statewide pageant, working with a coach on her interview and speech. She's watched video from past pageants to get used to what the stage looks like, and she's practiced walking in her heels.
A senior at Liberty High School, Neisen competed in her first pageant at the Adams County Fair in July. The daughter of Jeff and Lisa Neisen was one of nine contestants in the pageant, where she also paid tribute to her little brother and his positive effect on every person in her family.
Serving as county queen has kept Neisen busy since July.
"I've gotten to experience a lot of different things, meet a lot of different people," Neisen said. "Just going to all the parades and different events has been a blast and spending time with my family, directors and all the fair board."
Also competing in Springfield for the state title are other area queens -- Miss Brown County Fair Payton McKinnon of Mount Sterling, Miss Hancock County Fair Jessica Fox of Carthage, Miss Pike County Fair Bailey Henderson of Pittsfield and Miss Western Illinois Fair Hannah Mayberry of Winchester.