Queen’s reign is ending

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It ends where it began a year ago on the stage in front of the grandstands when Miss Edgar County Fair Kierstyn Allen crowns her replacement Sunday evening. The fair queen pageant starts at 7 p.m. tomorrow and 11 young women are vying for the title.

“It has exceeded my expectations,” Allen said, reflecting on her year as the fair queen. “It’s been an amazing experience.”

Allen acknowledged being the fair queen was a childhood dream. She’s not sure what fascinated her as a child but as she grew older the idea of serving as a role model through the queen’s position gained importance.

“It’s not just for little girls,” she said. “Girls in high school also look up to the crown as something they want to experience as well.”

She encourages any young woman thinking about entering a fair queen pageant to do so, adding valuable experience is gained by participating as a contestant whether one wins or loses. The skills pageant contestants gain, she said, are ones they can take into the future and apply in situations like job interviews.

“If they get selected the queen, they will have a year of so many great memories,” said Allen.

Some of the things Allen is taking away from the experience include enhanced public speaking skills and increased self-confidence. She has also gained a new group of friends she described as her fair family made up of fair board members and former fair queens.

That group was especially important in providing her support during the four-day Miss Illinois County Fair Queen pageant in January at Springfield. Allen followed an exhausting schedule of getting up at 5 a.m. and not getting to bed until midnight during that pageant. The long days were filled with a steady stream of rehearsals and interviews.

She received the beauty and physique award at the Miss Illinois County Fair Queen pageant.

“It was an experience unlike any other, and one I won’t forget,” she said about competing in Springfield.

Looking back to the 2018 Edgar County Fair Queen pageant, Allen said it did not register she actually won until she heard her name announced.

“I was so overwhelmed,” said Allen. “It showed how much hard work and dedication can pay off.”

As the fair queen she participated in numerous community activities but the favorites times were ones people may not have noticed. She said when out in her sash and tiara both little girls and little boys approached her asking for hugs or to have a picture with her.

“It was just so special when I got to give them a hug,” she said.

Serving as fair queen ate into her already busy schedule as a nursing student at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and also holding a part-time job.

Allen has considered entering other pageants, and that remains a future possibility, but for now she is ready to focus her full attention on school, getting her degree in May 2020 and entering the job market after that.

“My queen days are coming to an end,” she said.

Like most college students entering the senior year, her future is full of unknowns, but she is approaching it with a willingness to embrace opportunities. Allen does not have a fixed idea of where she wants to work and is prepared to go wherever a job takes her.

The preference is to land a position in an intensive care unit and after a couple of years begin working toward nurse anesthetist certification.

“I like medications and how they react with the body,” said Allen. “As a CRNA (certified registered nurse anesthetist) after I intubate the patient, I have a whole drawer of medicine available to keep the patient from twitching and asleep so the surgeon can work efficiently.”