MENDON, Ill. — Understandably, CayLee Hughes needed a moment to collect her thoughts.
“My gosh,” she said. “I just feel overwhelmed.”
Hughes does not expect her feet to touch the ground for quite a while after being named the 57th Miss Adams County Fair Pageant winner in front of a Wednesday night crowd of about 750 people.
Hughes, 18, was both the youngest contestant of four and the lone entry not from Liberty. She calls Camp Point home.
“I don’t think this is going to settle in for awhile,” she said. “This is like a dream.”
Hughes, who will attend Quincy University this fall, received a $2,000 scholarship for being named the winner of the Miss Adams County Fair Pageant, a title that will earn her a spot in the 63rd Miss Illinois Fair Queen Pageant in January in Springfield.
Runner-up to Hughes was Hannah Longlett, 20, who received a $500 scholarship. She attends Western Illinois University.
The other contestants were Katelyn Hummel, 20, who attends the University of Illinois-Springfield, and Julia Hahn, 19, a Maryville University student.
Hahn collected a pair of $100 scholarships for being named Miss Congeniality, and she was the winner of the Don Russell Memorial Award for earning the overall highest interview score.
Hughes’ dad, Jeff Hughes, was quite the proud father after the pageant. He had no problem relaying what he was feeling at the moment his daughter was named queen, a title that will eventually take her to more than 25 other county fairs representing Adams County.
“Joy … just joy,” he said. “I learned a lot (through this process) about just how much these girls put into something like this and how hard they work.”
The Hughes family is quite familiar with the pageant life. Caylee was the first Little Miss Adams County winner in 2010.
Hughes is the first Miss Adams County Fair Pageant winner from Camp Point since Lauren Whan won in 2010. She says the only downside as the title winner will be foregoing some of the activities connected to her interest in horses. She’s active in rodeo, barrel racing and other equine-related pursuits.
Hughes is looking forward to be a spokesman for the pageant and what fair activities can represent for young girls. She’s a strong believer in the positive power of social media, and she plans on being heavily involved in that area.
The contestants took part in pre-pageant interviews with judges, plus evening gown and swimsuit wear during the event itself. All four contestants also answered an at-large question in front of the audience before the judges’ final deliberation.
Outgoing queen Jersey Hesse of Mendon thanked the crowd for the year she enjoyed representing Adams County across the state at a wide variety of functions. She categorized the experience as a memorable 365 days.
“I’m now a part of a sisterhood that I will continue to (embrace) in the years to come,” Hesse said.
Adams County Fair Board Director Melissa Shriver-Hackamack is optimistic the number of queen contestants will be increasing in the coming years. She said multiple developmental programs are now underway to attract young girls into the pageant life and help return the queen contest to the stature it enjoyed years ago.
“This will all make a big difference in the years to come,” she said.
The last time there were double-figure entrants was 2014 when 14 girls competed. Only three times since 2007 has the pageant boasted 10 or more participants.
The last time more than 20 girls competed was 2005 (21). The event’s record number of entries came in 1975 when 26 girls took part.
Chad Douglas and Tegan Orpet served as emcees Wednesday night.
Most Recent Miss Adams County Fair Queen from:
- Mendon: Jersey Hesse, 2021
- Liberty: Cheyenne DeWeese, 2019
- Clayton: Madelyn Heinecke, 2018
- Quincy: Kaylyn Orpet-Hulett, 2017
- Paloma: Stephanie Dearwester, 2015
- Camp Point: CayLee Hughes, 2022
- Ursa: Rachel Shriver, 2009
- Payson: Amy Ohnemus, 2002
- Fowler: Amanda Cramsey, 2000
- Coatsburg: Lucy Koetters, 1998
- Plainville: Michelle LaLonde, 1981
MISS ADAMS COUNTY FAIR QUEEN PAGEANT PAST WINNERS
(Number of contestants and hometown, when available, in parentheses)
- 2022: CayLee Hughes, Camp Point (4)
- 2021: Jersey Hesse, Mendon (3)
- 2020: No pageant due to pandemic
- 2019: Cheyenne Deweese, Liberty (5)
- 2018: Madelyn Heinecke, Clayton (7)
- 2017: Kaylyn Orpet-Hulett, Quincy (9)
- 2016: Emma Hildebrand, Mendon (7)
- 2015: Stephanie Dearwester, Paloma (14)
- 2014: Lynsey Whitaker, Quincy (14)
- 2013: Kayla Bunch, Quincy (8)
- 2012: Montanna Neisen, Liberty (9)
- 2011: Erica Mitchell, Paloma (14)
- 2010: Lauren Whan, Camp Point (8)
- 2009: Rachel Shriver, Ursa (11)
- 2008: Casey Marquess, Liberty (7)
- 2007: Kate Leenerts, Quincy (13)
- 2006: Kari Miller, Camp Point (15)
- 2005: Randi Mixer, Camp Point (21)
- 2004: Lindsey Hess, Clayton (23)
- 2003: Kris Ann Douglas, Quincy (22)
- 2002: Amy Ohnemus, Payson (11)
- 2001: Nicole Edwards, Quincy (11)
- 2000: Amanda Cramsey, Fowler (12)
- 1999: Cathy Heckenkamp, Quincy (12)
- 1998: Luy Koetters, Coatsburg (12)
- 1997: Amanda Hoosier, Camp Point (14)
- 1996: Christina Heckenkamp, Quincy (14)
- 1995: Danielle Sill, Quincy (11)
- 1994: Stevee Baker, Quincy (13)
- 1993: Amy Maguire, Quincy (12)
- 1992: Stacy Stuedle, Quincy (10)
- 1991: Michelle Davis, Quincy
- 1990: Jill Walbring, Quincy
- 1989: Buffy Kulbeth, Phoenix, Ariz. (14)
- 1988: Dawn Wild, Quincy
- 1987: Laura Menke, Quincy (12)
- 1986: Michelle Eberle, Knox City, Mo. (14)
- 1985: Dawn Smith, Quincy (15)
- 1984: Carol Tate, Quincy (16)
- 1983: Kelly Juette, Quincy (14)
- 1982: Karen Grunden, Quincy (15)
- 1981: Michelle LaLonde, Plainville (15)
- 1980: Becky Payne, Mendon (7)
- 1979: Julie Hardy, Camp Point (12)
- 1978: Sharon Allen, Quincy (14)
- 1977: Venita Little, Quincy (16)
- 1976: Donna Blickhan, Mendon (14)
- 1975: Janet Dittmer, Fowler (26)
- 1974: Peggy Maguire, Quincy (17)
- 1973: Trish Peter, Mendon (16)
- 1972: Barbara Branson, Quincy (23)
- 1971: Debbie Wilson, Quincy
- 1970: Toni Wand, Payson
- 1969: Leslie Durand, Quincy
- 1968: Judy VonderHaar, Quincy
- 1967: Shirley Smith, Mendon (12)
- 1966: Susan Frazier, Quincy (12)
- 1965: Patricia Tieken, Mendon (12)
EDITOR’S NOTE: CayLee Hughes’ name was incorrectly spelled in a previous version of this story.
Miss Clipping Out Stories to Save for Later?
Click the Purchase Story button below to order a print of this story. We will print it for you on matte photo paper to keep forever.Purchase Story