MENDON, Ill. -- Madelyn Heinecke has spent most of her entire life coming to the Adams County Fair, usually showing lambs, but she didn't dream about becoming its queen.
"It's never something I pictured myself doing until about a year ago," the 20-year-old from Clayton said.
Encouragement from her family, including her parents, Amy Heinecke and John and Annette Heinecke, helped change her mind, and so did wrapping up her years in 4-H, which "really gave me the opportunity (to look at) what I can do next with the fair," she said. "I wanted to be part of the fair, to do something and help out."
She'll have the chance after being named the 2018 Miss Adams County Fair Queen in Wednesday night's pageant, held at the fairgrounds near Mendon.
Seven contestants vied for the title, with Cheyenne DeWeese, the 16-year-old daughter of Richard and Jan DeWeese of Liberty, being named first runner-up and Sierra Voss, the 20-year-old daughter of Karen Voss of Camp Point, named second runner-up.
Just minutes after winning the crown, Heinecke said she didn't really know what to expect over the coming year.
"This is all new to me," she said. "I really hope I can promote agriculture. That is my passion, what I really want to do."
Heinecke, who attends Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, hopes to return to Adams County and help her dad on the family farm.
Other contestants were Brianna Hildebrand, 19, daughter of Darren and Amy Hildebrand of Camp Point; McKenzie Mann, 20, daughter of Andrew and Tammy Mann of Fowler; Sophia Marcolla, 18, daughter of Richard and Lora Marcolla of Quincy; and Kayla Walker, 17, daughter of Chris and Sheila Walker and John and Tara Moffitt of Quincy.
DeWeese was named Miss Congeniality, with Heinecke winning the Don Russell Memorial Award.
Non-finalist awards for interview, speech/stage presence and evening gown were awarded to Mann, and Marcolla won the non-finalist swimsuit award.
Ahead of the queen pageant, 31 youngsters competed for Little Miss and Mister Adams County. Winners were Brodie Austen for Little Mister and Willow Shaffer for Little Miss.
The pageant also recognized 10 Sweethearts of Adams County. The annual recognition provides an opportunity for people of all ages with intellectual or physical disabilities to be a queen or king for a day.
With a large contingent of supporters, all wearing matching T-shirts, waiting to congratulate her, Heinecke offered her appreciation to her friends and family.
"I never really pictured myself up here, especially with a crown and everything," she said. "I just want to tell everyone thank you for all the help and support I received."