Geneseo's Strouss wins 2015 Henry County Fair crown

Lisa Depies & Tammy Wilkinson
THE 2015 HENRY COUNTY FAIR QUEEN COURT was crowned Tuesday, June 23 in Cambridge. Pictured are front row, from left: Little Miss first runner-up Joei Christopherson, Little Miss Henry County Fair Leah Walker and Little Miss second runner-up Janey Neumann. Back row, from left: 
Junior Miss second runner-up Kiersten Cathelyn, Junior Miss first runner-up Bradleigh Schaefer, 
Junior Miss Henry County Fair Kristen VanDeVelde, 2015 Miss Henry County Fair Queen Danielle Strouss, Miss Henry County Fair first runner-up Jamie Franck and Miss Henry County Fair second runner-up Rebecca Fisher.

Among pageant contestants who win Geneseo’s Music Festival Queen title, trying to follow that up the following year with a Henry County Fair Queen crown is considered a near impossibility.

However, last year, the 2013 Music Festival Queen Maggie Schlindwein won the 2014 fair title.

On Tuesday, June 23, Geneseo’s Danielle Strouss became the second consecutive woman to complete the feat when the 2014 Music Festival Queen earned the 2015 Henry County Fair title.

“We previously said there was sort of a curse, but Maggie and I feel we’ve broken that,” said Strouss, 18.

A business management major at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, Strouss was competeing in her third Miss Henry County Fair pageant.

“I think I’ve bettered my communication and interview skills over the years,” she said. “I really wanted to be in a position to win this year, so I’ve tried very hard to prepare.”

Strouss’ first pageant entry and win also took place at the fairgrounds when she captured the 2002 Little Miss Henry County crown.

“My mom put me in the pageant because one of my friends was doing it and I wanted to be able to wear red ChapStick like she did,” said Strouss.

Dressing up and wearing makeup continues to be a fun highlight of pageant competition, said Strouss. “You don’t get to dress up in heels and dresses all that often, so it’s fun to do that.”

Over the years, Strouss has competed in a variety of other pageants. She was first runer-up in the fair’s Junior Miss contest and won the Miss Mississippi Crown Outstanding Teen title in 2012.

On Tuesday night, Strouss said she faced very tough competition at the fair.

“The most nerve-wracking part was when they called the group of six finalists who would have a chance to compete for the title. There was a really good group of competitors this year, and everyone had a very good chance of making it to the final,” she noted.

At the end of the night, it was Strouss’ name called as the new queen.

“I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock and my mouth dropped. I’d worked so hard for it this year, but it was exciting to actually achieve it,” she said.

Strouss is a 2014 graduate of Geneseo High School. She is the daughter of Brian and Amy Strouss.

Her 2015 Henry County Fair Queen court includes first runner-up Jamie Franck, 17, of Cambridge and second runner-up Rebecca Fisher, 18, of Kewanee.

Fisher also was named the recipient of the Miss Emmy VandeVoorde Memorial Award.

Miss candidate Emma Vandemore, 17, of Geneseo, received the Miss Congeniality Award. Kelsey Manasco, 18, of Cambridge, received the photogenic award; and Avery Burgeson, 17, of Cambridge, received the director’s award.

The 2015 Junior Miss Henry County Fair crown went to Kristen VanDeVelde, 14, of Galva. She is the daughter of John and Sue VanDeVelde, of Galva.

Bradleigh Schaefer, 13, of Cambridge, was first runner-up. She is the daughter of Brad and Kelly Schaefer. Second runner-up was Kiersten Cathelyn, 14, of Geneseo. She is the daughter of Mike and Kim Cathelyn.

Sharidain Vinstrand, 13, of Cambridge, received the Miss Congeniality Award. Alexandrea Blint, 13, of Cambridge, received the photogenic award. Alissa VanStechelman, 13, of Kewanee, was the recipient of the director's award; and Kayla Anderson, 14, of Geneseo, received the Junior Miss Emmy VandeVoorde Memorial Award.

Leah Walker, 7, of Geneseo, was crowned the 2015 Little Miss Henry County Fair. She is the daughter of Shaun Walker and Heather DeBrock.

Joei Christopherson, 7, of Geneseo, was the first runner-up. She is the daughter of Troy and Wendy Christopherson. Second runner-up was Janey Newmann, 7, of Geneseo. She is the daughter of Landon and Sharon Neumann.

Leah Anderson, 6, of Kewanee, received the Miss Congeniality Award. Macy Anderson, 6, of Kewanee, received the photogenic award. Emma Motley, 7, of Cambridge, won the Little Miss director's award. Bia York, 5, of Cambridge, was the winner of the Little Miss Emmy VandeVoorde Memorial Award; and Little Miss contestant Kamrie Whitcomb, 7, of Orion, received the award as the ticket trophy winner.