NASHVILLE — For the first time ever, the Tennessee Fairest of the Fair is a Scott Countian.
Gracie Cox was crowned as the winner at the Tennessee Association of Fairs’ annual fairest of the fair pageant at its 96th annual state convention in Nashville on Friday.
The 18-year-old Cox was among 55 participants in the pageant, which included fairest of the fair winners from counties across the state. Cox was invited to participate after winning Miss Scott County at the annual Scott County Fair in August. In a bit of an unusual twist, she was not the only Scott Countian in the pageant; Raven Wright also participated, after winning the Tennessee Valley Fairest of the Fair.
Not only was Cox the first Scott Countian to win the prestigious pageant, but it had been a number of years since a Miss Scott County pageant winner had finished highly in the state pageant. Charity Lay, a member of the pageant committee in Scott County, said she believes Carrie Winningham Scott to be the last Scott Countian to finish in the top three. That would have been a little more than two decades ago.
Cox, the daughter of Nikki Cox and Tim Vaughn and a student at Roane State Community College, is no stranger to pageants. She was also crowned Miss Pre-Teen Scott County in 2012. That was before the Miss Teen pageant was added at the Scott County Fair.
Of Friday’s statewide pageant, she called it an honor to be the first winner from Scott County.
“It’s almost like a dream,” she said. “I can’t put into words how excited I am to have this opportunity and to represent such an amazing county.”
Cox was initially in disbelief when the judges’ decision was announced.
“It is pretty clear by the look on my face when they called my name that I was in utter shock,” she said. “I was in disbelief that I was chosen to represent the State of Tennessee Fair Association out of 55 incredible young women.”
Much like when she was crowned Miss Scott County in August, Cox excelled when answering the judges’ questions. Candidates are graded on their off-the-cuff response to questions. At the Scott County Fair, she said she would embrace the opportunity to be an ambassador for Scott County. By winning last week’s state pageant, she will have the opportunity to do just that on a broader scale, traveling the state to make appearances.
“Even though I am not sure where all I will get to attend, I am so excited to see where God will allow this to take me,” she said. “I thank Scott County for all of the support because without this community standing behind me, half of this wouldn’t be possible.”
Friday’s pageant was merely one of a number of events attended by Cox and her entourage in Nashville over the weekend. Prior to the pageant, Cox’s designed shoe — each candidate represents a shoe that represents their community — received the most Facebook likes of all the 55 candidates’ shoes. Her shoe focused on Scott County’s tourism opportunities and incorporated the community’s Discover Scott tourism slogan.
“This is a weekend I will never forget. I made so many new friendships and great memories to last me a lifetime,” Cox said. “To be honest, I was a lot more nervous competing in our fair. Going from walking on a small stage in front of a crowd of people you know to a big stage in front of 900-plus people who are complete strangers is a big change.”