There was excitement in the air as the audience got quiet and Bailee Saenz, 16, was announced as the 2016 queen at the Nueces County Junior Livestock Show pageant on Saturday.
Bailee said she was surprised to hear her name.
“I felt shocked, it didn't hit me till the next day that I was queen. I'm looking forward to going to other counties and representing my chapter and Nueces County at their pageants.”
Bailee, 16, represents Calallen FFA and was also awarded Miss Congeniality, which is selected by the contestants for the most helpful and kind towards her fellow competitors.
Saenz is a junior at Calallen High School and hopes to use her scholarship to earn her Bachelor's degree in Ag business with a minor in Communication from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. Until then she has a year to reign as the 2016 Queen.
The queen will receive a $2,500 scholarship, as well as bracelet, flowers, a monogrammed blanket, a banner, and the crown. The winner also earned the prestige of being queen for the next year as well as all the responsibilities and public appearances that it entails.
First runner up, for Bluntzer 4-H was given to Jimi Ellen Savage, representing Nueces Co 4-H Council was second runner up Jayna Grove, for Agua Dulce 4-H, third runner up was awarded to Karley Hendricks and fourth runner was Sarah Gilliam representing Calallen 4-H.
The winner of Top-Talent was Lacey McGee from London 4-H for her cover of A Broken Wing by Martina McBride. Her father said, “We're proud of her. She's always singing but this is only her third time on stage in front of a microphone.”
During the interview portion of the pageant, the top finalists were asked two questions. The first question they were all asked was, “Why should we buy American made products?” The second question was selected at random to give the judges an honest and unrehearsed answer before they made their final decisions.
Penny Pillack, chairwoman of the Queen's Contest Committee was walking around the backstage area making sure the girls were ready to go.
“The livestock show is in it's 81st year but the Queen's Contest is only 53 years old,” she said.
The contest goes back to 1963 when Patty Wilson won the first crown representing Bishop 4-H.
A total of 22 contestants vied for the crown that night.
This introduction at the beginning of the event was important because it was worth 10 points towards their score to get to the top five. Talent was given 25 points, while evening wear was scored 15. The biggest portion was the interview held on Friday night worth 50 points, bringing the grand total to 100. The five who got the highest scores would have their scores thrown out and the points would begin again with the final interview. During the interview they would be given up to 25 points each for the interview, poise, appearance, and personality.
The talent portion of the contest took up the most time due to the amount of time allowed for each competitor to put her best foot forward. Some of the performances that stood out included a musician playing a saw with a violin bow, a twirler, a dancer channeling her inner Napoleon Dynamite, and a performer, some singers, some skits, some speeches and one performer giving a sign language translation to A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes from the movie Cinderella.
The contestants also competed in the evening dress, which allowed the ladies to shine in their best attire as they walked across the stage to their place on the risers.
Last year's queen Bailey McLendon helped as Master of Ceremonies along with Tracy Wright who kept things lively and fun while things were being prepped behind the curtain.