Opening night of the 84th annual Lake County Fair in Grayslake is always marked by the all-important crowning of the fair queen.
On Wednesday, Kristen One, of Vernon Hills, was chosen to reign as the 2012 Miss Lake County Fair Queen.
"It feels great," said One, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Iowa who is double-majoring in biology and physics. She wants to earn a masters degree in secondary education and teach high school science.
Thirteen candidates vied for the title, including: Rachel Bruno, a senior at Mundelein High School who was the first runner-up; Bethani Jacobsen, a senior at Grant Community High School, who was a finalist; Jacquleine Lopez, a senior at Waukegan High School; Courtney Marcusson, a sophomore at Northwestern University; Meghan Opolka, a junior at the University of Northern Iowa, who was a finalist; Jessica Quinn, a sophomore at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Laura Siwula, a junior at Warren Township High School; Dalila Vazquez, a senior at Waukegan High School; Lauren Wright, a freshman at Marquette University, who was a finalist; and Victoria Wozniak, a junior at Grayslake's College of Lake County.
One said the one aspect of the pageant that rattled her nerves was the pop question portion, "Because you never know what they're going to ask."
One will be a presence at each day of the Lake County Fair, which runs through Sunday. In August, she'll represent Lake County at the Illinois State Fair. Next January, she will compete in the Illinois County Fair Queen Pageant.
One said she looks forward to her fair hosting duties and enjoyed getting to know all of her fellow candidates.
The 2011 Miss Lake County Fair Queen, Brittani Schisler, who is also the 2012 Illinois County Fair Queen, gave a fond farewell along with the 2011 Little Miss Lake County Fair, Alyssa Gallarneau, and Jr. Miss Lake County Fair, Gabrielle Glashagel.
"It was the greatest endeavor of my life," said Schisler, who thanked pageant director Alyce Brownlee.
"You are my queen mom," she told Brownlee. "You are the heart of this pageant."
Brownlee has served as pageant director for 25 years.
Come out to the fair tonight, Thursday, July 27, at 6 p.m., for the crowning of the new 2012 Little Miss and Jr. Miss Lake County Fair.
For more information, visit www.lcfair.com.