It’s now been two weeks since the 77th Annual run of the Colusa County Fair wrapped up, but the reign of the newly-crowned fair royalty has only just begun.
Mini Miss Colusa County Karsyn Gwinnup and Miss Colusa County Ellie Geyer checked in with the Pioneer Review last week to describe their experience at the pageants and the fair, and to offer a glimpse into what they will be doing in and for the community during their reign.
The girls’ responsibilities began immediately after their respective coronations, and presiding over the rest of the fair was their first order of business.
The girls’ first event together was the Seniors Luncheon at the fair, which both girls described as an early favorite.
“That was my favorite event at the fair, I think, by far,” Gwinnup said. All of the ladies there were so nice. They all said, ‘I think I know your parents.’”
Since then, Gwinnup and Geyer have already been out and about in the county, as both attending the grand re-opening of the Maxwell Pool on Saturday. The event was the first of many in the county that will be graced with the presence of the two young women.
“Now that we’re reps of Colusa County itself, Karsyn and I will be attending a lot of events starting this summer,” Geyer said, when asked how her new title would involve her within the community in the coming year. “And, just sort of getting our little county out there.”
Gwinnup added that she was looking forward to more opportunities to showcase her voice, which wowed the judges and the crowd alike during the Mini Miss pageant.
“It really builds my chances to talk to people,” Geyer said. “ it’s definitely a platform for me — just the pageant itself was a platform for me. I couldn’t have wished to have gone above and beyond where I am now, and I’m lucky to have won and get a whole extra year of this experience to build on what I’ve already done.”
Gwinnup said that she was most excited to attend the Glenn County Fair in 2017, while Geyer offered a list of events in 2016-17.
“We have the Butte Fair, Glenn County, Nevada — we’re trying to go to the California State Fair. We’ll see. We stay in touch with Jonathan and the board, and stay involved with all of the events at our fairgrounds, too. We’re going to busy. Just the week of fair was busy for us,” Geyer said.
While the girls have a year’s worth of events to look forward to, they both said that they already miss the fair and were sad to see the pageant process come to an end.
“I feel like once you get crowned, the fair goes by really fast,” Gwinnup said.
“It did,” she said. “I miss it already.”
Geyer said that she didn’t initially know what to expect heading into the Miss Colusa County process.
“You see the TV shows of the little girls in pageants and you’re just like, ‘What the heck, am I really getting myself into this? Even my mom was like, ‘Oh my goodness, Ellie, are you really doing this?” Geyer said.
Geyer put those preconceptions aside and entered the pageant, and immediately saw that the Miss Colusa County pageant was more than just a beauty contest, and nothing like those television shows.
“The first meeting we had with the parents was really an eye opener. You see how dedicated the directors are, and how involved they are. They set rules and boundaries for you… they’re really shaping the ladies that are doing it into what they really want to see as Miss Colusa County, which not only benefits the eventual Miss Colusa County, but all the contestants as well,” Geyer said.
A rewarding part of the process, both for Geyer and for Gwinnup, were the close relationships that developed between all of the contestants.
“We created a really special bond,” Geyer said. “There was fact that we were all competing against each other, but we would step aside from that… I think if I had to change anything, it would be that we were all still together. I was just texting one of the girls last night saying that we needed to do something.”
Gwinnup agreed, saying that a Mini Miss sleepover had been in the works to get the contestants back together.
“My mom was going to plan a Mini Miss sleepover after (the) Mini Miss (pageant), but I guess we’re never going to get around to that… We’ll have one next year,” she said.
Asked what they would like to see changed about the pageants themselves, both Geyer and Gwinnup said that the Mini Miss and Miss Colusa County contests were perfect as is.
“I thought everything was fine. They made us feel comfortable, and we had everything we needed,” Geyer said. “(Miss Colusa County coordinators) Devin and Karen were always there for us.”
“(Mini Miss Colusa County coordinators) Jill and Nina did awesome for the pageant, and have for years,” Gwinnup said. “I really would not change anything.”
Geyer, however, did say she would change one thing about the pageant if she could.
“Obviously, I can’t change what Isabelle (Delgado) is going through, but if I could, then that would definitely be one,” she said.
And the winner is…
Gwinnup described the pageant itself — particularly waiting for the winner to be announced — as nerve-wracking.
“You would think, ‘I’m not going to win,’ but when you would see the other girls doing their talents and going out there and doing their stuff, you get more comfortable with it,” she said.
Gwinnup said it helped that she had a big cheering section.
“When everyone starts cheering for you, you get happy,” she said. “You can just feel the rush through your body when you went onstage, and when the crowd started cheering for you, you felt like you belonged on that stage.”
Geyer had a large crowd supporting her as well, which she also found empowering.
“It really helped through the pageant, definitely,” she said. “I didn’t sing or do a talent, but when you are up there, you sort of feel like a rockstar — like a lead singer in a band or something.”
The most nerve-wracking moments for Gwinnup were those spent waiting for master of cermonies Jim Lemos to announce the winner of the contest. And even after her name was called, there was still a moment of disbelief, she said.
“When Jim tells us what we get (from sponsors to go along with the title), he goes on and on about it, and then he says, ‘…And the Mini Miss or Miss colusa county is,..’ and then there is a pause and he says your name. And then it’s like — wait, that’s me?” Gwinnup said. “You just don’t know — you’re thinking, I’m not going to win because the first runner up was really good.”
And when Geyer was announced Miss Colusa County?
“I didn’t even change expressions!” Geyer said. “I was completely overwhelmed when they called my name. I was thinking that they maybe made a mistake, and then I didn’t know what to do after that. (I thought), oh my gosh, do I walk around?”
Thoughts on the Fair
Geyer and Gwinnup said that overall, the fair was a fun experience this year — and in the case of the latter, a fun experience that came with a couple of unique challenges.
“I liked, when you went on rides, you had to hold your crown on — and I couldn’t go on any upside down rides,” Gwinnup said.
The best part of the fair for both girls was simply getting together with friends and family.
“I have always loved the fair,” Geyer said. “Everyone just being together — I mentioned that in my interview. We’re always going to have rivalries in the county, but when we come together, we’re all one.”
“Everyone knows each other,” Gwinnup said. If you’re from different towns, you get to see the person that you haven’t seen in a while.”
For next year’s fair, however, both girls said that they would like to see more people in attendance.
“I think that’s something we could change for next year: get more people involved with the fair. Especially this year, we would go with Jim Lemos on his little gator and go to the kids world — sometimes Flo would have to cancel the diaper derbies, or some of those events. That’s something we could really change next year — get more people involved, especially the students,” Geyer said.