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New Miss Illinois crowned

Caption
After being named as one of the five finalists for Miss Illinois, Lisa Allen of Batavia reacts at the Norris Cultural Center in St. Charles on Saturday evening. (Rob Winner photo)

ST. CHARLES – The crowd erupted in shrill screams Saturday as Ashley Hatfield was crowned Miss Illinois 2007 at the Norris Cultural Arts Center.

Saturday’s crowning was the culmination of four days of events in the area, starting with a news conference Wednesday and appearances at miniature golf courses and malls along the way.

This is the second year the cultural arts center has hosted the pageant, which chooses who the Land of Lincoln’s 80th entry will be in the Miss America pageant.

Pageant board member and Norris Center Director of Operations JoAnne Granquist said the pageant helped to bring contestants from across the state and their families from throughout the midwest to the Fox Valley.

“I think it has probably meant something greater for St. Charles,” Granquist said. “It’s really not showing off only our wonderful facility, but the city of St. Charles.”

The 21 contestants in Saturday’s event each were holders of local titles, from Miss Chicago to Miss Metropolis Area.

One contestant who didn’t have that far to travel was Miss Shawnee, better known as Lisa Allen, 23, of Batavia.

Click here for photo slideshow

For Allen’s parents Julee and Terry, the feeling of sitting in the audience, watching their daughter compete was not a new one. Lisa was in the top 10 for Miss Indiana in 2005, the same year that her identical twin sister Lauren won Miss Illinois.

Julee Allen said the contest brings many benefits to the participants.

“I think that, from Lauren, we know what those benefits are,” she said.

For Lauren Allen, watching her sister was a nice break.

“I can tell you it’s a lot easier sitting back and watching than competing,” she said.

Allen took second runner-up. Miss Northern Illinois, Julianne Luick of Elgin, did not place in the top five.This is the first time in two years that the winner has not come from the region. Miss Illinois 2006 Heidi Ekstrom was Miss Kane County.

For more information on Miss Illinois, visit www.missillinois.org. For more

information on Miss America, visit www.missamerica.org.

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