By Keith Gushard
WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP —
“Keep breathing. Keep breathing,” Brianne Charise Lenhart, 19, of Saegertown, said she told herself repeatedly when she went backstage after the first-ever tie was announced Sunday night at the Miss Crawford County Fair Pageant.
Lenhart, who won the 2013 pageant on a tie-breaker, wasn’t just tied with one other contestant, but all three fellow competitors — Naomi Wisniewski, 17, of Meadville; Ashley Jane Hawn, 19, of Meadville; and Baylie Sue Leveto, 17, of Guys Mills.
The four contestants went backstage briefly while pageant officials determined how to break the tie. The tie-breaker used was an additional on-stage question for each contestant plus the judges’ overall rating of each contestant for the day.
“All of them tying was unbelievable,” Diana Perry, the pageant’s executive director, said of the history-making event in the five-year-old pageant. “I may not have had a lot of contestants, but it shows I had the best contestants.”
Lenhart winning this year’s pageant keeps the Miss Crawford County Fair title in the family — Brianne’s twin sister, Lindsey, was the reigning queen until Sunday night.
Brianne said her toughest part of the contest was the additional on-stage question, which for her was: “How has technology affected your generation’s social skills?”
Lenhart responded by saying it had affected her generation in sort of a negative way since people aren’t having conversations face-to-face and it was important for people to have interaction.
Wisniewski, who was named first runner-up, said she kept herself calm by dancing to music from the band Diamond in the Rough when the contestants went backstage during the tie-breaker pause.
As Miss Crawford County Fair Queen, Brianne Lenhart received a cash award of $750. She also received $100 for the Best Essay Award and $100 for the Most Ads for the Program Award.
Lenhart and Wisniewski tied on the Public Speaking Award.
Wisniewski also won the Interview and Miss Congeniality awards, while third runner-up Ashley Hawn won the Community Choice Award.
Brianne Lenhart competed in a silver fitted sequined gown for the evening gown competition. For her skit, “Why You Should Come to the Crawford County Fair,” she gave a scrapbook presentation of various aspects of the fair.
A daughter of Brian and Irene Lenhart, she attends Indiana University of Pennsylvania, studying hospitality management.
She was crowned at the conclusion of the pageant, which included the evening gown competition, skits about why somebody should attend the fair, and on-stage interview questions. Judges had met with the all contestants and scored them during private interviews. Other scores came from their essays.
“American Bandstand” was the theme for the pageant — complete with poodle skirts for the contestants during one of the musical numbers.
In addition to the various aspects of the competition, the pageant also included introduction of more than 30 queens and princesses from various area pageants, plus choreographed numbers by the contestants and the outgoing queen, Lindsey Lenhart, who also gave her farewell address to thank everyone for their support.
Judges for the pageant were: Cheryl Cameron, a former Mrs. Pennsylvania International; Jeanne Moore Yount, a media executive in northwestern Pennsylvania; and Andy Alm, news director at Forever Broadcasting.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.