She's 'Fairest Of The Fair'
In A Year Of The 'Family'
BY AMY ROSE
Madison Ray was crowned the 2011 "Fairest of the Fair" Monday night to kick off the 62nd annual Greene County Fair.
Opening-night attendance totaled 3,726, nearly the same number as last year's Monday-night attendance, according to David Peake, fair treasurer.
Peake said he was "very pleased" with the turnout, considering the fact that a strong thunderstorm moved through Greeneville just as many people were getting off work Monday afternoon.
He attributed the large attendance to crowds who wanted to see the Fairest of the Fair and the Southern Rough Stock Association Rodeo, which was held in the Jim Saulsbury Arena.
"Everybody seemed to really enjoy it," Peake said of Monday's events.
The late afternoon thunderstorm brought the thermometer down about 20 degrees, leaving pleasant temperatures in the 70s for the pageant contestants and audience.
A FAMILY FOCUS THEME
The theme of this year's pageant was family, with a focus on how the entire community united to help in recovery of the deadly tornadoes of April 27-28.
Nine contestants, ages 16-21, competed for the crown.
Ray is the 17-year-old daughter of Debbie and Kenny Ray, who sponsored her in the pageant.
She is a senior at Greeneville High School and is employed by the Greeneville Moose Lodge No. 692.
She is the reigning Miss Iris Fest and a member of the Greene County Youth Council.
Ray's hobbies are volleyball, dance, reading and spending time with family and friends.
She plans to attend college and major in education.
Ray had a cheering section, which included members of her family and her GHS volleyball team.
First runner-up was Erin Hollifield, daughter of Walter and Deborah Hollifield.
Second runner-up was Alyssa McClanahan, daughter of Leslie Cox and Johnny McClanahan.
Third runner-up was Emily Bryant, daughter of Dr. Clifford and Debbie Bryant.
Fourth-runner up was Dallas Brooks, daughter David and Holly Brooks.
Sierra Darnell was selected by the contestants as Miss Congeniality. Darnell is the daughter of Roy and Stephanie Darnell.
Voting is based 50 percent on beauty, 25 percent on poise and personality and 25 percent on a three-minute interview with the judges that was held during a tea held Sunday at City Garage Car Museum.
Each of the top five contestants was also asked an on-stage question.
Ray was asked what is the best advice her parents or mentors have given her and why?
She responded that the best advice she had received was to "always be yourself, and just never let anyone change that."
The pageant crowd was welcomed by Lanny Love, president of the fair, who introduced emcees Ron Metcalfe, of Radio Greeneville, and Keema Bowman Greenlee, 1998 Fairest of the Fair.
Greenlee recognized the fair's officers: Love; Peake, Rhonda Humbert, first vice president; Dale Collette, second vice president; and Rick Tipton and Kaye Shipley, secretaries; along with the board of directors: Marjorie Bradley, Rick Clark, Rob Ellis, Ann Gaut, Jake Haun, Bobby Holt, Mike Idell, Donald Kilday, Freddie Myers, Cam Philbeck, Nancy Saulsbury, Diane Shelton, Janie Shepherd and James Thornton.
Metcalfe recognized the dozens of agencies that responded to the tornadoes: the American Red Cross, Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services, Greeneville Emergency and Rescue Squad, local Volunteer Fire Departments, the Greene County Sheriff's Department and Sheriff Steve Burns, the Greeneville Police Department and Police Chief Terry Cannon;
Also, the Greene County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and Director Bill Brown; the Food Bank and Director Carmen Ricker; John Deere Power Products and other local industries, Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles, Free Will Baptist Family Ministries and Executive Director Dr. James Kilgore, road crews and the Greeneville Light & Power System and other utility companies.
Metcalfe said representatives of these agencies did anything they could to help their neighbors across the county, from Ducktown in northern Greene County to Houston Valley, Camp Creek and Horse Creek in southern Greene County.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if that doesn't meet the definition of the word family, I have no idea what does," Metcalfe said.
He encouraged audience members to say thanks to all of those who helped with tornado recovery.
Metcalfe noted that reigning 2010 Fairest of the Fair Courtney Gosnell joined the tornado recovery efforts by making donation jars and placing them in various locations, raising approximately $1,000.
Speaking briefly to the crowd was Wayne Bettis, public relations director for AIDNET, a local agency that is continuing the tornado recovery effort.
He introduced Holly Malone, who is selling t-shirts at the fair to benefit AIDNET.
Bettis noted that Malone has sold $10,000 worth of the t-shirts since her efforts began shortly after the tornadoes.
WE ARE FAMILY
Before the contestants introduced themselves, a pre-recorded message from country artists The Band Perry was played for the audience.
The band, which is on tour with Tim McGraw, welcomed everyone to the pageant being held in honor of those who responded following the tornadoes.
The three siblings, who came home in May to help serve Red Cross meals to tornado victims, ended their message by saying together, "In Greeneville and Greene County, we are family."
The nine pageant contestants took the stage wearing lime-green shirts and white shorts.
They danced to the disco hit "We Are Family."
To conclude their dance, the contestants held up letters that spelled "FAMILY."
The contestants later were escorted individually onto the stage by personnel from various local emergency agencies.
Entertainment was provided by local vocalist Jerry Scott and local pianist Tim Hybarger, who have become regular participants in the pageant.
Scott sang contemporary Christian, adult contemporary, '80s rock and '80s ballads.
His performance of Prince's "Purple Rain" brought loud cheers from the audience.
Following the song, Gosnell took the stage for her farewell walk, wearing a deep purple gown.
Also entertaining was Brittaney Chambers, 2011 Miss Greene County, who sang "God Bless America" and a contemporary version of "Amazing Grace."
Also on Monday night, preliminaries of the "Greeneville's Greatest!" singing competition were held at the GreenBank Pavilion.
Preliminaries continue Wednesday night, with the finale and announcement of the $2,000 grade-prize winner on Saturday night.
Results of the rodeo will appear in a future edition.
The fair continues through Saturday.
Today is Senior Citizens' Day, with $4 admission for anyone over age 60.
Tonight's events include country star Easton Corbin on the main stage at 8 p.m.
Classes 1-7 of the Baby Show will begin at 6 p.m. at the GreenBank pavilion.
The Firefighter Challenge will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Jim Saulsbury Arena.
The qualifying round of the Corn Bag Toss Tournament will begin at 6 p.m.
Daisi Rain will perform at 9 p.m. at the GreenBank Pavilion.
Gates open at 4 p.m., and the carnival opens at 5 p.m.
Gates close at 11 p.m.
Admission is $7 for ages 12 and up, $2 for ages 6-11 and free for ages 5 and under with a paying adult.
Pay-one-price rides are $15.
Wednesday night is Student's Night with $5 admission for all students and free admission for children ages 11 and under.
For more information, visit the fair's website, greencountyfair.com.
A video and photos from opening night of the fair can be viewed at http://www.GreenevilleSun.com.