MANATEE -- With the crowning of four new queens Saturday night, the Manatee County Fair kickoff tradition continued.
"We've been doing it forever," said Bob Sweat, Manatee River Fair Association chairman. "It's the culmination of a lot of work."
Noelle Beauchamp, a student at Florida Gulf Coast University, shed a few tears when she was named the new Miss Manatee County Fair.
"Oh my goodness. I'm so honored," Beauchamp said. "This is my first pageant, so this is unreal to me. This is emotional -- wow!"
Beauchamp said she entered the pageant because her cousin who has Down Syndrome "gave me inspiration to do something greater than myself. I want to be that difference."
Sarah Adams was named Junior Miss Manatee County Fair.
"Thanks for supporting me," Adams said to her family and friends after being crowned. "I'm really excited and couldn't have done this
Adams wore the evening gown of Samantha Solie, the 2006 Miss Manatee County Fair. Solie was among the 400 attendees in the Braden River High School auditorium.
"I did this pageant since I was 11 years old," Solie said, returning to the pageant for the first time in five years. "I grew up with the same group of girls who did it every year."
Madison Barter, Little Miss Manatee County Fair, got laughs from the crowd with her acceptance speech.
"I'm all smiles and giggles right now," said Barter, who fist-bumped first runner-up Kayla Fisher. "I was continuously telling her it was going to be her, then it was me.
"I've got to thank my mom. And I have to thank my dad for his wallet, of course."
Alyssa Pritchett, the new Mini Miss Manatee County Fair, felt "good" about winning. But with a little prying from Vernon DeSear, master of ceremonies, elaborated.
"Well, actually, I feel ecstatic," she added.
Contestants were judged on interviews and stage presence. After the ceremony they received hugs and bouquets of flowers from family and friends.
"I think every pageant is as exciting as the first," said Sue Revell, Queens chairwoman. "I have the best view. What I've been seeing is the smiles and pride on your faces. You have entered your fair project. You've nurtured them, coached them and bought beautiful gowns."
The Miss, Junior Miss, Little Miss and Mini Miss queens will appear at events throughout 2013 and will be visible at the 10-day county fair, from the cheerleading competition to cattle judging, Sweat said.
"They represent the fair," he said. "The pageant is a great springboard for the younger ones."
Runners-up for the Miss division were: fourth runner-up Alex Kroll; third runner-up Quinlynne Kalish; second runner-up Hope Kennedy and first runner-up Bailey Mosley.
Runners-up for the Junior Miss division were: fourth runner-up Liza Harpley; third runner-up Taylor Haddock; second runner-up Eryn LaLonde and first runner-up Sammy Hyatt.
Runners up for the Little Miss division were: fourth runner-up Jalyn Thompson; third runner-up Zoe Schaffer; second runner-up Marleigh Hall and first runner-up Kayla Fisher.
Runners up for the Mini Miss division were: fourth runner-up Allison Pascarella; third runner-up Jemma Hall; second runner-up Taylor Ackerman and first runner-up Brooke Breton.
The fair opens Thursday at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto.
Elizabeth Johnson, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041.