DARKE COUNTY - The Great Darke County Fair brings with it many traditions, including the tradition of pageantry; the Little Miss and Mister pageant has been a steadfast tradition of the fair for at least 25 years, noted Katie Netzley, coordinator.
“It’s a tradition at the fair,” Netzley commented. “It’s been going on for at least 25 years, and it’s nice to see that tradition continue…We are doing it a bit differently this year - we’ve typically had the girls go immediately following the boys, and this year they will begin at 6:30 p.m., after an intermission.”
This year’s theme of Disney, “A magical kingdom comes to life,” seemed to garner some excitement after being chosen through a Facebook contest, Netzley said.
“I’m hoping people get really creative; I’m sure we’ll still have the Cinderella’s and Sleeping Beauty’s, but I’m hoping people go beyond that, because it’s really wide open,” said Netzley, who is co-owner of the Flower Patch, which has organized the pageant for the past four years. “I like the oddball characters. I think, [especially with a Disney theme] that you can get really creative and still keep it inexpensive. I hate to think that parents are going out and renting tuxes or buying expensive costumes, I mean, this is for three to five year old children, it should be fun, it’s not big pageantry.”
Netzley said that she and her “amazing helpers” begin procuring sponsorships for the prizes that contestants and the court receive; because everyone who participates gets a ribbon and prizes, she said. The pageant uses a panel of four judges, Netzley said, typically active members of the community or those who work with children. Contestants are judged on personality, outfits, and poise and stage presence, she explained, but they aren’t required to do the interview, or to go on stage alone, she added.
In the past, Alex Mikos has been the emcee for the event, and Netzley said she was hoping he would once again take the job, because of his past performances.
“I’m hoping Alex will emcee again, he really keeps the kids moving,” Netzley said. “He talks to them, and asks them questions, and I think it goes pretty well…and the kids, hopefully, have a great time, because that’s what it’s about.”
There are typically around 55 children in the pageant, Netzley commented, with the girls outnumbering the boys nearly double each year. Getting contestants is a breeze, she noted, it’s getting sponsorships that’s the most time consuming.
“There are so many organizations in the community that are asking for donations,” Netzley commented. “I’m not going to say it’s difficult to get sponsors, but it is the most time consuming part of the pageant. We try to put on a good pageant for the kids and the adults, and that’s the biggest part, securing donations from area businesses.”
Through the generosity of Darke County businesses, Netzley said the pageant offers a “fantastic prize package” for both the Little Miss and Mister, their court, and even those who don’t make runner-up, because they still get a small prize and a ribbon, Netzley noted.
This year’s Little Miss and Mister Darke County Fair pageant will take place Monday, Aug. 18 in the Youth Building, beginning at 5:30 p.m. with the Little Mister contestants; at 6:30 p.m., the Little Miss contestants will begin.