The gem of the 77th annual Colusa County Fair hails from the southern gem of Colusa County.
Arbuckle's Ellie Geyer, 17, was crowned on Thursday evening from a field of five contestants before a near-capacity crowd in the grandstands.
The Pierce High School senior, who is the daughter of Michael and Joni Geyer, began her yearlong tenure as Miss Colusa County and reigned over the remaining events at the fair.
While the diminutive teen stands at only 5 feet tall, her homemade, homegrown personality left the judges impressed — as did her poise and communication skills — all of which constituted 30 percent of her score. Geyer spoke to the judges and the crowd about her experience growing up in Colusa County and the memories she has made here.
"The memories that I treasure the most come from a town that doesn't even have a stoplight. … Living in Colusa County has given me so many advantages growing up as a child. … It has provided me with memories to last a lifetime, even if most of those memories came from some old dirt road," Geyer said.
Academic achievements and extracurricular activities constituted 25 percent of Geyer's score — and she was equally impressive in that category. Geyer has maintained a 4.0 or better grade point average in school. Geyer also plays high school and club volleyball, competes in track and field, keeps stats for the boys' basketball teams and participates in FFA, School Site Council and the Spanish Honors Society.
Community involvement made up 20 percent of Geyer's score, and Geyer's face is a familiar one — not only to residents of Arbuckle, but to those of the county as a whole.
Geyer works for the Arbuckle Parks and Recreation District and with youths throughout the county by teaching and coaching swim lessons, gymnastics and T-ball.
Beauty, face and figure comprised 15 percent of the final score, and commitment to the program accounted for 10 percent.
In addition to the title, crown and sash, Geyer will receive a $1,000 scholarship — awarded in the memory of Chet and Joy Shifflette — to continue her education.
Geyer said she plans to attend a four-year university after graduating from Pierce High next year and plans to study in the medical field.
Lillian Dye, a 17-year-old senior at Colusa High School, was selected as the 2016 first runner-up and will receive a $500 scholarship in addition to that title. She is the daughter of Tana Loudon and Bradley Dye.
Maureen LaGrande was selected by her fellow contestants as Miss Congeniality, which is given to the person who has been the most helpful during training, the most fun to be around, and who got along with everyone involved in the pageant.
The contest began on a somber note when the crowd learned that one contestant, Isabelle Delgado, was too weak to make the pageant. She became ill during the week before Memorial Day and was admitted at UC Davis a week and a half before the pageant. Delgado has been battling leukemia after being diagnosed in July of 2015. She recently completed intense chemotherapy. Isabelle's father, Julian Delgado, spoke to the crowd and gave the speech his daughter had prepared.
"I have been very proud of her. She's been very strong throughout the whole process — good spirits and never complaining. She actually sometimes left me in awe," Delgado said. "I want to thank all of Colusa County, who has been so supportive of Isabelle and our family. The outreach has been incredible. Your love has been very felt. Before I read, I want to ask you for a very special favor. Please keep praying for her, that she may get over this current illness and that she may be cured of her leukemia."