Homestead High School graduate Carly Wilcox will wear the crown of Miss Allen County during the fair, July 27-Aug. 1.

On Sunday, judges chose Wilcox from among 14 contestants.

Wilcox, 19, of Roanoke, is the daughter of Jim and Heather Wilcox, and a 2019 graduate of Homestead. She will graduate in 2022 from Miami University, where she is studying psychology.

Contestant No. 7 accepted the crown from Amber Hoopengardner, who had held the title for two years due to the cancellation of the 2020 fair.

For each, it was an emotional moment. Wilcox had been third runner-up and a member of Hoopengardner’s court in 2019.

Wilcox covered her face in disbelief as 13 other contestants turned toward her at the announcement. In comments afterward, she said she had long hoped for the opportunity to work with the fair in this new capacity.

Judging was based on an interview with the judges, on an appearance in business wear and an appearance in evening wear, and finally 10 points of the total 110 possible points were awarded for answering a question selected at random. Asked what gift she wished she could give to any family member and why, Wilcox answered that she wished she could give her sister the gift of better health. She deserves it, Wilcox said.

In her final appearance as queen, Hoopengardner told the crowd of 222 that she had promised herself she would not cry. She failed in that hope, but succeeded in sharing her appreciation for the opportunity and the experience. She told of volunteering to serve ice cream at the 2019 fair, and how a crew of friends dressed as security guards then escorted her throughout the fair. She said other fair queens and her own family also composed a support system that has seen her through the two years.

As for being queen for two years? She said her crown sat in its box for 520 days as the pandemic played out. Though she kept the crown longer than she had expected, she wore it fewer times than she had hoped. Wear it often, she told waiting contestants. Wear it to events and wear it out to dinner. “Your reign will only be as good as you let it be,” she said.

Wilcox shared a final photo moment with her court for the coming year.

• 1st runner-up, Bridget Bane, 19, Churubusco. Daughter of Vince and Tabitha Bane. The 2021 graduate of Carroll High School will attend Purdue Fort Wayne. Bane also received the People’s Choice title, with voting by paying guests. Her fellow contestants also selected her as Miss Congeniality.

• 2nd runner-up, Madilyn Malcolm, 18, Garrett. Daughter of Sam and Jonell Malcolm. The 2021 graduate of Garrett High School will attend Purdue Fort Wayne.

• 3rd runner-up, Renae Wallace, 21, Fort Wayne. The 2018 graduate of Yorktown High School will graduate from Purdue Fort Wayne in 2022.

• 4th runner-up, Morgan Schaefer, 17, Fort Wayne. The daughter of Loren and Lisa Schaefer is a member of the Churubusco High School Class of 2022.

Pageant Director, Fair Board member and 2004 fair queen Michelle Love said attendance at the pageant was higher than usual. The pageant was moved to the fairgrounds this year, after several years at nearby Carroll High School.

Guests judges Erin Dove, Jessica Geiger and Kelli Thornson interviewed the candidates and selected the queen and her court. K105FM radio host Dan Austin served as emcee.

In January, Wilcox will compete for the title of Miss Indiana State Fair 2022.

More tiaras remain to be awarded, as the Little Miss Allen County coronation will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, July 27, in the Home & Family Arts Building. Titles will be awarded to Little Miss, Junior Miss and Miss Preteen, all based on a penny-a-vote fundraiser for the scholarship pageant.

The Allen County Fairgrounds is at 2726 Carroll Road, Fort Wayne. Gate admission is $5 Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, and $7 Thursday, Friday and Sunday, with ages 5 and younger admitted free. Parking also is free. Other special rates apply. For a full schedule, visit theallencountyfair.com.

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