The IAAF Convention will be held Jan. 17-20 at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield. At this convention, county fair officials can get ideas and book events for their 2008 fair.
A big part of this convention is the Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Pageant. Miss Fayette County Fair Queen Shayla Branham will compete for this title, along with 66 other contestants from throughout the state. Pageant Director Kim Fitch along with crew member Vicki Koonce, and hair stylists Angel Kopp and Stephanie "Dee" DLugos from Maranatha's Clips & Tips will also attend this year's convention, along with many family members and friends there to cheer her on.
Branham is the 18-year-old daughter of Rod and Sandy Branham of Vandalia. She is a freshman at Kaskaskia College, where she is pursuing a nursing degree. She plans to transfer to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville to pursue a career as a Family Nurse Practitioner after completed her studies at KC.
They will leave on Thursday morning for the trip to Springfield. Instructions will be given for the weekend during the official roll call time at 2 p.m. Also at this time, official swimsuit, and evening gown pictures will be taken.
Miss Illinois County Fair Queen 2007 Ashley Willner will then host a pizza party for all of the contestants.
Friday will be the interview day. Each contestant will have a personal interview with the five judges. This is a big part of the competition, because the title of Miss Illinois County Fair is a job. The new queen will be an employee of the state of Illinois for the year. She will be the hostess of both state fairs and travel throughout the entire state to other county fairs. She will also speak at the House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate.
The preliminary competition is held on Saturday. Each contestant will compete in evening gown and swimsuit competitions, in addition to giving a 60-second speech. Branham will be in the afternoon group (1 p.m.-4:30 pm). The public is invited to attend. All events are at the Crowne Plaza in Springfield.
Sunday is the final day of competition. All 67 contestants will do a dance routine, and the top-12 finalists will be announced. This event is reserved seating only. There will be a sit-down banquet, and the top-12 finalists will compete in speech, evening gown, swimsuit and three pop questions. Miss Illinois County Fair Queen 2008 will be announced immediately following this competition.
Anyone who would like to send Shayla a card wishing her good luck may mail it to 2719 Lakewood Dr., Vandalia, IL 62471.