This year's Saline County Fair Pageant will once again be held at the historic Royal Theatre in Downtown Benton on Aug. 31.
"The Fair Queen Pageant is the royalty pageant we hold in conjunction every year with the Saline County Fair," said Director Tara Wright. "It is for residents of the community and county to have a chance to represent the county throughout the year."
She added this is the only royalty pageant for the county because Saline County does not have a pageant that goes on to Miss Arkansas.
This year, some of the age groups have been adjusted and a new age group — Mini Miss — has been added.
There are two categories for boys: baby mister and little mister. There are 13 categories for girls and women: baby miss, toddler miss, tiny miss, mini miss, little miss, petite miss, young miss, preteen miss, junior miss, miss, mrs. and sr. miss.
The times for each contest have not been decided. Wright said she knows they will be split with younger contestants in the morning and older contestants in the afternoon, but she needs to see how many sign up to decide exact times.
Wright said the pageants went well last year at the Royal. She said the people at the Royal were "amazing."
Junior Miss and Miss winners will go on to the State Fair Pageant. First runners-up for each of those two contests go to District.
Contestants cannot hold both the Saline County Fair title and the Saline County Fair and Rodeo title, which has been added this year for contestants who compete on horses. That event will be held separately from the Fair Pageant.
Wright said all contestants compete in beauty, wearing a pageant dress, church dress or other dress they choose. All contestants also compete in photogenic.
Junior Miss, Miss, Mrs. and Sr. Miss all compete in interview.
Junior Miss and Miss compete in swimwear wearing one-piece swimsuits. Mrs. and Sr. Miss compete in sports wear wearing anything to do with a sport. Wright said contestants have worn items ranging from a baseball uniform to leggings and a Razorbacks T-shirt. The outfit must be sports related.
Wright plans to have four judges drawn from outside of Saline County. They will come from other pageant systems. Wright said she always tries to have an extra judge so if one can't make it, she still has three.
The winners from each category will be required to make appearances at the Saline County Fair and Rodeo, Saline County Fair Livestock awards, participate in the Saline County Fair, attend some Saline County Fair board meetings and other appearances that may be determined.
"We take pride in selecting a great group of royalty every year and they make us proud," Wright said.
Both Junior Miss and Miss will receive scholarships.
Wright said no one walks away empty handed. Everyone gets a ribbon, sash or tiara. She added she is proud of the participants who have the courage to get on stage.
The queens will win a crown and embroidered sash. The runners up will receive a trophy. The side awards will get medals or ribbons and photogenic will get a rosette ribbon.
Last year, the pageant had 78 contestants across the competitions.
All pageant forms must be turned in no later than Aug. 25. Contestants can find forms through the Saline County Fair Pageant Facebook page, the Saline County Fair book, www.salinecountyfairgounds.com or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can be returned through email or mailed to the address listed on the form.
The cost to enter is $50. Side awards, including prettiest eyes, prettiest hair, best dressed, prettiest smile, most beautiful and best personality, are $5 each or $25 for all. To enter an additional photo for judging is $10.
"We are excited we have the Royal again," Wright said. "We are trying to make it a Saline County tradition. We want this to be something our community can be proud of."