Bring on the pancakes and chocolate milk; it’s time for Fray to celebrate Miss Quincy title

Miss-Quincy-Juliana-Fray

Juliana Fray | Photo courtesy of Miss Quincy Scholarship Program

QUINCY — Juliana Fray is looking forward to a feast of pancakes, accented by a tall glass of chocolate milk, at Quincy’s Village Inn restaurant.

“That’s my favorite meal in the whole world and my favorite place to eat,” Fray said.

Make no mistake about it, Fray will be chowing down in a celebratory fashion, accompanied by plenty of family and friends.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old Pittsfield native was crowned Miss Quincy late Saturday night in front of a festive Quincy Community Theatre turnout of about 350.

Fray had her own cheering section in the upper reaches of the auditorium. Moments after being announced as the 73rd Miss Quincy winner, she pumped her arms and pointed to those cheering for her. 

There may have also been a scream or two from Fray. Or three or four.

“I’ll be 23 on (Monday), so this is just great!” Fry said, barely able to control her emotions. “I am so happy!”

From county fair competitions to competing for Miss Quincy, and all the pageants in between, it’s been an experience Fray has enjoyed thoroughly for almost half of her life.

“The pageant bug bit me when I was 12 years old,” she said.

The rest, as they say, is runway history.

The Miss Quincy pageant, presented by Gully Transportation, was not held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It rebounded in grand style Saturday night. The pageant also featured the Miss Quincy Outstanding Teen competition — which Fray won in 2016 — and a field of Miss Quincy Princess participants, who took part in a non-competitive format.

Fray, who attends the University of Florida, also received a $3,000 college scholarship and a package of prizes from various local and regional merchants. She also earned the People’s Choice Award.

Fray said she is grateful to numerous mentors and backers, but as far as role models go, that begins and ends with herself. She emphasized she is the only person who controls her destiny and determines what she can, and will, accomplish in the future.

Fray, a daughter of Donnie and Jennifer Fray, showcased her musical theater abilities in the talent portion of the pageant.

Next for Fray will be the Miss Illinois pageant May 28-30 in Normal inside Braden Auditorium on the campus of Illinois State University. The winner of that competition advances to the 94th Miss America pageant Dec. 19 in Uncasville, Conn.

First runner-up was Ashley Miller, 23, of Culver-Stockton College. Miller won a $500 scholarship and was named the recipient of the Montanna Neisen Platform Promise Award (which also included a $150 scholarship).

Crystal Middendorf, 21, of Quincy University and John Wood Community College, and Grace Geschender, 20, of Elmhurst University, completed the field.

Contestants were judged on interview, talent, evening wear, social impact initiative pitch and on-stage questioning.

Lindsey Hess served as executive director of the pageant. 

Alli Peterson. Photo courtesy Miss Quincy Scholarship Program.

Alli Peterson, 16, of Winchester High School was named Miss Quincy’s Outstanding Teen and awarded a $750 academic scholarship, courtesy of Blessing-Rieman College and Health Sciences.

First runner-up was Kaydee Rennecker, 15, of Western High School, who received a $300 scholarship. Second runner-up was Olivia Schaller, 14, of Illini West High School, who was awarded a $200 scholarship.

Allison Worley, 17, of Illini West earned the People’s Choice Award.

Also competing for the Outstanding Teen were Kadence Haskins, 17 of Pittsfield High School, Lyndi Weatherford, 12, of Quincy Junior High School and Sierra Lucie, 16 of Carl Sandburg College and Warsaw High School. 

The Princess participants were Etana Lilako, 9, of Iles Elementary School; Layla Hall, 6, of Denman Elementary School; Bella Hall, 5, of Denman Elementary; Calli Hood, 8, of Brown County Elementary School; Kylee Rae Adams, 7, of St. Francis School; Raelynn Weatherford, 8, of Rooney Elementary; Karissa Smith, 10, of Beardstown Christian Academy; and Mahari White, 6, of Baldwin Elementary.

Outgoing Miss Quincy Emma Hildebrand and outgoing Miss Quincy’s Outstanding Teen Shelby Rose were recognized for their contributions. Both girls held their titles for two years after the pandemic canceled the 2021 competition.

“I learned some important skills … and that two-year window helped me grow as a human being,” Hildebrand said.

“It’s definitely been an experience … the past two years have been life-changing,” Rose said.

Matt Schmidt served as emcee of the pageant for the 14th year. 

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