What is a festival without a queen?

 The process of crowning a queen is a tradition for any fair or festival and it is no exception for the Wild and Wonderful Arts & Crafts Festival held at the Jackson County Junior Fairgrounds every July.

The WWA&CF is in its fourth year of operation; however, for the pageant portion, it is on year two. Having crowned its first queens in 2018, this festival that celebrates “all things community” will be soon be keeping the new tradition alive by crowning a whole new court for 2019.

Parchment Valley Conference Center's Hill Hall will be the setting for the 2019 WWA&CF pageant on Saturday evening, June 29.

With 91, yes, 91 total contestants ranging in ages birth through Mrs., will be competing for coveted titles in every division.

“So far it is the largest Fairs and Festivals pageant this year,” Shara Shamblin first-year director of the WWA&CF pageant said. “I have 45 ladies registered in the queen's pageant and 46 registered for the children's pageant.”

Shari Leavitt, director of the WWA&CF believes a pageant is a huge part of any festival.

“It gives a visual of what they are representing and advertising for,” Leavitt said.

She is excited to let the pageant reins go to Shamblin this year and Shamblin is just as excited to be taking the reins.

“I am so excited for this opportunity,” Shamblin said. “I couldn't have asked for better interest so far. I am looking forward to a great pageant day and I hope to do great things with the pageant in the future.”

Considering it being Shamblin's first year running the pageant, she made a special offer to all interested contestants. The registration fee was FREE, but a limited number of spots were available for each division.

“It was a totally free pageant to enter!” Shamblin said. “My hope is that all the new queens will assist me in fundraising projects throughout the year to keep it that way in the future.”

The queen contestants will undergo an orientation and interview prior to taking the stage for introductions and evening gown competition. Contestants will be narrowed down to the top four in each division following the evening gown portion. At that point, the top four selected will return to the stage for the scariest part of any pageant, the fishbowl or onstage question. The judge's scores will then be tabulated and new queens will be crowned.

Shamblin and Leavitt have high expectations and standards set for their queens. As part of their duties, they will be expected to ride in the Ripley Fourth of July parade as well as reigning over the WWA&CF set for July 5-7. Other duties including fundraising events and special appearances will also be part of their roles.

“I think having festival queens upholds a traditional celebration and promotes pride in our communities and our festivals,” Shamblin said. “I hope that some great ladies will be crowned that will represent the festival and our area in a positive way, serve as role models, and give back to their communities.”

Doors open to the public Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. with the pageant beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is $5 per person and votes for Fan Favorite will be accepted for $1 each.