The 2017 Queen of the Fair was announced Friday night at the Wayne Regional Agriculture Fair.
Contestant No. 7, Kourtni Gerken, a sophomore at Wayne School of Engineering, received the crown after also taking the Nikki Painter talent award, earning the highest points given by the judges in the talent portion of the competition. She performed a jazz/tumble routine to "Sparkling Diamonds."
The daughter of Angela Hill and John Gerken is also taking classes at Wayne Community College, with aspirations to simultaneously earn her high school diploma and associate's degree, then going on to pursue medical school.
The 15-year-old had several reasons behind entering the fair queen contest.
"My dance teacher, Desiree Autrey Houston, competed in this pageant a few years ago and she won and I was inspired by her to compete," Gerken said. "I heard from a lot of people that this is a very fun pageant with good experiences, so I wanted to join in on the fun."
Her favorite part of the experience, she said, was practicing and interacting with the other contestants, making new friends along the way.
She also enjoys the regional fair, she said, especially the food.
"I love to eat and the food is super good," she said with a smile. "I love corn on the cob. I get that every year."
This year's event had 11 contestants.
Miss Congeniality, voted on by the contestants themselves, went to Macy Parkhurst, 14, a ninth-grader at Charles B. Aycock, who sang during the talent portion.
Third runner-up went to Courtney Bishop, 16, a CBA senior, who performed a dance.
Second runner-up was Mackenzie Hinson, 13, a home-schooled ninth-grader who did a clogging dance.
Mackenzie Haswell, a 16-year-old junior at Rosewood High, was first runner-up. Her talent was dancing.
In addition to prizes donated by area businesses, the finalists received an in-kind scholarship to University of Mount Olive. A $2,000 award went to the queen, with the first runner-up receiving a $1,500 scholarship and the second and third runners-up getting a $1,000 and $500 scholarship, respectively.
Other contestants included Hannah Spier, 15, CBA junior; Maddison Schillinger, 16, a junior at Rosewood High; Kasey Vann, 16, a junior at Southern Wayne; Isabelle Richards, 15, a sophomore at Eastern Wayne; Mackenzie Minchew, 17, Rosewood senior; and Cheyenne Hill, 14-year-old sophomore at Southern Wayne.