PALMETTO -- You don't have to travel across the ocean to find a royal baby. Manatee County has its own: The 2015 Manatee County Fair Baby Pageant crowned on Saturday a future king and queen, both less than 1-year-old.
With an exuberant audience of parents, grandparents, family and friends cheering and snapping pictures under the Mosaic Tent at the Manatee County Fairgrounds, Bryson Feverston, about to turn 5-months-old, and Bailey Merriman, 10 months old, were awarded top honors in the Under One Year Boys and Girls age group.
Looking dapper in his checkered shirt, blue pants and a yellow bow tie, Bryson charmed the judges with the help of his parents, Jonathan and Jenna Feverston of Palmetto.
"He's a very happy boy and easygoing," said Jenna, no stranger to pageants herself after winning Miss Manatee County Fair Queen in 2009.
Baby Bryson's royal counterpart, red-haired Bailey Merriman, looked regal in her light-blue formal dress embroidered with pearls. She happily accepted a teddy bear as mom, Amber, and dad, Kevin, proudly looked on.
"She's a happy baby and smiles all the time," said Kevin, characterizing her royal highness' personality. "She's more like me in that she gets into trouble, but she's a real easy baby."
The Baby Fair Pageant, sponsored by Manatee Memorial Hospital and the Manatee River Fair Association, included age groups up to 6 years old for girls and 2 years old for boys. The overall winners in each group won beauty as well as optional categories, such as best attire, best smile,
prettiest eyes and hair and most-photogenic.
Top winners received a $50 check, trophy and free family admission to next year's fair. All were handed their trophies by last week's 2015 pageant winners, Hannah Roddenbery, Miss Manatee County Fair Queen; Hannah Brady, Junior Miss; Regan Williams, Little Miss; and Analise Pena, Mini Miss.
As the youngsters made their way onto the stage, with a parent guiding them to the center, urging them to smile, be cute and show their personality, the judges looked for charm and personality. They were also made aware of contestants' favorite foods and favorite toys.
For Cadence Cramer, who won the 2-year-old girls division, it was easy wowing the crowd, said her mom, Brooke.
"Cadence loves going on stage. She's done other pageants and she likes gymnastics," her mom said. "This is our first for Manatee County."
Pageant "Queen Mom," Sue Revell, a Manatee River Fair Association board member emeritus who helped host last week's crowning of the 2015 Fair Queen, said the pageants are a favorite generational event.
"You have grandparents, aunts, uncles all here, and it's a family affair every year. I really love it when the dads bring their little ones on stage. I think that's really cute."
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.