09/28/13 — Here she is ...

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Here she is ...

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 28, 2013 10:34 PM

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17-year-old Sylina McKinney, a Rosewood High School senior, took home the crown at this year's Queen of the Fair Pageant.

DUDLEY -- Sylina McKinney performed a lithe and agile contemporary dance Friday night to the popular Kelly Clarkson song, "Because of You," in the Entertainment Arena at the Wayne County Fairgrounds.

But it was the passion with which she spoke about children and her chosen career field, nursing, that tipped the balance and earned her the crown as 2013 Queen of the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.

The 17-year-old Rosewood High School senior is a member of student council, treasurer of the HOSA Club and a peer group leader.

She is also a senior dance member at Academy of Performing Arts, where she assists with the 3- and 4-year-old dance class.

"Having them run up to me and say, 'Hey, Sylina,' is like the best feeling in the world," she told the judges, prompting her aspirations of going to college to become a pediatric nurse.

This was the fourth pageant she has entered, she said.

"I made a lot of new bonds with a lot of different people from different schools," she said of her latest experience.

Still reeling from the announcement and having a crown placed atop her head, she said she was excited about serving in the role.

"Just representing the fair, Wayne County, anything, any experience," she said.

Her father, Steve McKinney, had no problem photo-bombing the festivities. After momentarily hanging back and snapping a few pictures of his own at the edge of the stage, he handed his camera phone to a reporter, ran up to the group of winners and proudly stood behind Sylina for some extra shots.

"I'm just so proud, so proud of her," he said afterward.

Thirteen contestants were in this year's competition.

Katlyn Batts, a sophomore at Charles B. Aycock High School who sang "My Heart Will Go On," was named first runner-up and received the Nicole Painter Talent Award for highest overall score in the talent portion of the competition.

The second runner-up was Brittany Hill, a junior at Rosewood High School, who performed a tap routine and aspires to become a member of the cheerleading team at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

MyKayla Wallace, a junior at Charles B. Aycock High who gave her rendition of the Adele song, "Turning Tables," was third runner-up and earned her fellow contestants' votes for Miss Congeniality.

Prizes included in-kind scholarships from Mount Olive College.

The queen received a $2,000 award, while the first runner-up received a $1,500 scholarship, second runner-up a $1,000 scholarship and third runner-up a $500 award.

The evening also marked a milestone for Gaye Hare, celebrating her 25th anniversary as director of the contest.

Calling her the event's matriarch, long-time emcees Jay Sauls and Jill Suggs Howell, herself Queen of the Fair in 1993, summoned Mrs. Hare to the stage to be recognized.

"I feel like a queen," Mrs. Hare said before being serenaded and presented with gifts for her service. She also thanked Sonya Strouse, her predecessor in the role, with whom she initially shared co-director duties starting in 1989.