COLUMBIA - Curls, pigtails and a sea of little girls in dresses and little boys in polo shirts and khaki shorts crowded the mulitpurpose room on Thursday and Friday nights for the Boone County Fair baby contests.
Little boys with spiked hair ran around and wrestled in the aisles for the boys' portion on Friday night, while their parents anxiously looked around wondering where their rambunctious sons could have possibly gone this time. Amy Inskeep said she entered her son, Aiden, into the contest because he loves to be around people.
"I just want to show him off, because I think he's adorable. He's got a great personality. He likes to be around people, that's when he really shines," Inskeep said.
On Thursday, the squeals of excited children set the scene for the girls' round of the contest. While waiting for the contest to start, mothers attempted to comb hair amongst screams of protest from their children. Fathers sat back and relaxed or chased their daughters across the auditorium. Jamie and Josh Calvert said they entered their daughter Candace into the contest just for fun.
"There's not a lot for her to do now, and we love to see her dress up and get up there," Jamie Calvert said.
When it was finally time for the contest to start, parents lined up on stage with their children, each child wearing a paper plate number tag to make it easier for the judges to identify them. Other family members crowded the stage, waving to the babies while trying to get them to smile and laugh for the judges. Some children danced and played on stage, while others simply stared blankly at the crowd of people in front of them.
Contestants in the baby contest were judged on personality, appearance and proper play clothing. Once on stage, the judges narrowed the contestants down to the top ten. From there, places are given to the top six babies.
Sighs of disappointment from the families of babies not chosen were almost as loud as the shouts of excitement from the families of babies that were. There were 81 participants in the girls' contest and 69 participants in the boys' contest. Nancy Brush said she entered her daughter, Deborah, and son, Patrick, into the contests so that they would be able to participate in activities like their siblings do.
"We entered them because their older siblings all entered into the exhibits, so we wanted something for them to do," Brush said.
Winners of the Boone County Fair Baby Contest were: Newborn to not-yet-one year old: Adriana Schernaman and Ryland S. One year old to not-yet-two years old: Christina Cox and RaSaun Nichols. Two years old to not-yet-three years old: Kenley Conyers and Tucker Salter. Three and four years old to not-yet-five years old: Berla Morales and Gabriel Maenner.