SPRINGFIELD—For the first time, Miss Henry County Fair has won the Miss Illinois County Fair title.


When?Henry County Fair?Queen Jackie Driscoll of Cambridge selected her evening gown for the 2011 Miss Illinois County Fair Pageant, she decided to accessorize with a pair of “lucky” earrings.

The earrings belong to Ashley Maxwell, who served as Henry?County?Fair Queen in 2004, the year Driscoll was named the county’s junior miss.

“(Maxwell) wore them when she won the county pageant and then wore them when she made the Top 12 at the state pageant,” said Driscoll, 20.

The earrings, which Driscoll describes as “big and blingy” iridescent stones, were lent to her for the 2010 Miss Henry County?Fair Pageant.

Driscoll won the county pageant wearing the earrings and decided to try their luck at the state event.

On Jan. 16, the earrings again proved lucky, as Driscoll was crowned the 2011 Miss Illinois County?Fair Queen.

“I do think they’re lucky,” said Driscoll. “They also matched perfectly to my dress.”

Driscoll and 65 other county fair queens traveled to the Crowne Plaza in Springfield for a weekend of competition.

Following preliminary events, the Top 12 queens compete in finals.

“A goal I had set for myself was to be in the Top 12. I was really nervous, especially because they called my name last (for the Top 12),” she said.

Driscoll said she’d been pleased with her preliminary interview and hoped the judges likewise had been pleased.

“I knew I’d done the best I?could. It was probably my personal best interview, but I didn’t want to jinx myself by thinking I’d done really well,” she said.

As one of the Top 12 contestants, Driscoll competed in the pageant’s “main event.”

“Being on stage was so much fun. Every time I was up there, I didn’t want to get off,” she said.

In preliminary events, Driscoll was known as contestant No. 1.

However, in the finals, she became contestant?No. 12.

“At the end, they first announced the second runner-up. She was No. 1 (in the finals). I?had forgotten that my new number was 12. I was excited because I thought I’d gotten second-runner up,” explained Driscoll.

Instead, Emily Travis, Miss Williamson County, earned the second runner-up nod.

Marcela Gillen, Miss Warren?County, was then named first runner-up.

“I was happy for Miss Warren County because she had been one of my best friends during the pageant,” said Driscoll.

By that point in the pageant, Driscoll said  she was excited “just to have made the Top 12.”

“But then I saw the judges look my way. I had butterflies in my stomach,” she said.

The moment she was named the 2011 queen was “overwhelming” said Driscoll. “I saw my family in the audience standing up and screaming. I?couldn’t believe it.”

After the pageant, Driscoll was whisked to the banquet area of the Crowne Plaza for 90 minutes of photographs.

“I can’t even remember all of the people I took pictures with,” said Driscoll.

She finally made it to her hotel room where she ate a meal from Steak &?Shake.

“I was starving,” she admitted. “It was all very exciting, but it was a very long weekend.”

As the new Miss Illinois County Fair?Queen, Driscoll will reign at the Illinois State Fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin.

“I will live on the State Fair grounds (in Springfield) during the fair,” said Driscoll

The new state queen is no stranger to the Springfield fair.

“I go every year,” she said, adding the fair’s food is her favorite part. “I?always have to split a turkey leg with my dad.”

In addition, Driscoll will spend her summer traveling to various fairs and events throughout the state.

She is the first Miss Henry?County?Fair Queen to be crowned the state winner.

Driscoll is a 2008 graduate of Stark County High?School. She is a history major in her junior year at Monmouth College.

She is the daughter of Jamie and Gene Lang of Cambridge and Mike and Laurie Driscoll of Modesto.