A Discussion with Washington County Fair Queens

It seemed fitting that retiring Washington County Fair Queen Jaylyn Bower would be passing down her title to her close friend.

“I was so happy and so excited,” said Laney Renth, who was crowned on July 12 during the ceremony at Nashville Middle School. “I told Jaylyn not to hug me because I would cry.”

Renth and Bower have been friends since “tee ball days,” growing up on the same street in Hoyleton for seven or eight years. Both have also worked as servers at Kretzer’s for a number of years.

“It’s been a great two years,” Bower said of her reign, which was extended when COVID canceled the proceedings last year. “It is an amazing experience to be a fair queen, let alone to do it for two years.”

Renth said she was in complete shock when she learned she had won the pageant.

“I was like, ‘Wait, what’s my number?” she said. “Then the tears came. I cried the second they called my name, all through pictures. I was like I need to stop. I was just so happy and ecstatic to be named Miss Washington County Fair Queen.”

A cosmetology student, Renth built her platform around self-confidence and believing in yourself to do what ever makes you feel like a beauty queen.

“There are so many girls who compare themselves to social media,” she said. “Almost nothing is unedited on social media. I want to people feel beautiful and comfortable and confident in their own skin. You don’t need makeup to be pretty. You don’t need hair to be pretty but if that is what you want do it. Do what makes you happy and what makes you feel good.”

Mabry Gladson was crowned Junior Miss Washington County and Riley Hund is the Little Miss crown winner. On Monday, all three fair queens participated in the Clinton County Fair parade.

Now that her reign is complete, Bower has a semester left until she finishes her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She says she plans to take the LSATs in the spring and then head to law school next fall.

Renth took her state boards the same week she began fulfilling her duties during the Washington County Fair. She will take her written state board later this summer and finish more of her general classes at Kaskaskia College this fall. Her plan is to then transfer to a university to get her bachelor’s in business management and marketing and eventually open her own full-service salon and boutique.

Both queens thanked the Washington County Fair Board, the judges, the pageant personnel and all those involved who help make the experience one they will never forget.

“It’s a once  in a lifetime opportunity to get on that stage,” Bower said. “And do what we do for in front of our entire county for our friends and family to see. Just go if you are thinking about it. You wont’ regret running and you certainly won’t regret it if you win fair queen.”

Renth said some of the things she is looking forward to in her reign is attending the events of the fair and attending the tree lighting ceremony during the annual Hometown Christmas event this December.

“If you are thinking about running, you are not going to regret it,” she said. “These girls, I feel like we have gotten so close during this whole process. It’s been amazing.”

I feel like we are all realy close 

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