OXFORD – Seventeen-year-old Stephanie Bennett of Bryant Pond proudly wore her sash around the fairgrounds after being crowned Miss Oxford County Fair for 2004 Thursday.

Bennett was the unanimous choice of the judges, said pageant coordinator Kristin McAllister Linindoll, who won the title herself in 1982.

The event was given special attention this year as a way to celebrate 25 years of pageantry at the fair, Linindoll said. In addition to the seven contestants, several past queens were on hand for the pageant, which drew a large crowd.

“It was real nice for the audience to see that this wasn’t a one-year thing,” she said.

Linindoll said she suspects some in the audience were drawn by the judges as much as the contestants. Judging the contest were the current Miss Maine USA Mackenzie Davis of Hallowell, Mrs. Cumberland County International Amy Plummer, the 1979 Miss Teen Maine Kit Masse, and Marcia Scott of Gray, a Mary Kay sales director.

“All the girls did a great job,” said Linindoll, but Bennett clearly stood out, showing a high degree of poise and confidence.

All of the girls were encouraged to wear their sash around the fairgrounds throughout the fair, which ended Saturday amidst a disappointing rainstorm. Saturday was Bennett’s big day, said Linindoll, as she was required to be on hand for the pig scramble, the He-Man Contest, the Moose Calling Contest and to pass out programs at the racetrack.

“Throughout the year she’ll attend different agricultural meetings throughout the state,” Linindoll said.

Linindoll said the pageant gives many of the girls their first exposure to a life of farming. “You learn to pick hay, and to hang on to the lead of a horse. I had two girls approach me and say they were going to do it again next year.”

Bennett, as the queen, won a $500 scholarship that she will receive once she is enrolled in a college or technical school.

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