June 15, 2016 Edition

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Looney serves as 2015
Arkansas State Fair Queen

During her reign as 2015 Arkansas State Fair Queen, Holly Looney volunteered for organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Aubree Hughart
Staff Writer

In August of 2015, WBC student and local business owner Holly Looney was crowned the 2015 Miss Lawrence County at the annual county fair.

She continued on in the pageant system, and was crowned the 2015 Arkansas State Fair Queen in late October, the first contestant from Lawrence County to hold the title. During the year of her reign, she has been very involved in volunteer work and various events throughout the state, representing Arkansas, Lawrence County and Walnut Ridge.

Holly is a 2013 graduate of Walnut Ridge High School and will graduate in May of 2017 from Williams Baptist College with a bachelor of science in liberal arts. She is the daughter of David and Karen Looney of Walnut Ridge.

Looney competed in a few pageants as a young child, but didn't get back into the pageant world until she competed at the Miss WBC pageant and was crowned the queen during her freshman year of college in 2014.

In preparation for the 2015 Miss WBC pageant, Looney bought a dress for crowning only to later find out that the school was not having the pageant that year. With a brand new pageant dress already in her closet, Looney said her mom encouraged her to sign up for the Miss Lawrence County pageant.

"Mom said I was wearing that dress one way or another," Looney said. "She had tried to get me to do the pageant before, and I already had a dress, so I figured why not."

After winning the title of Miss Lawrence County 2015, Looney began preparing for the state level of competition in full swing. She went through multiple interview practices and was at the gym every day.

When Holly arrived at the state competition in October of 2015, her motto was "just have fun." The Northeast Arkansas preliminaries were on Wednesday night. When they announced the top three girls who would be moving on to Saturday's competition, Looney said she was shocked to hear her name on the list.

"I was just happy to get to Saturday because I don't think anyone from Lawrence County had gotten past Wednesday in a long time, so I was just really happy to be there," she said. "But I definitely wasn't expecting anything."

On Saturday, Holly competed with girls from across the state of Arkansas in interview, swimsuit and evening gown competition. When she found out she had won one of the interview awards, she was extremely excited.

The interview score counted for 50 percent of the final score, and upon receiving this award Holly knew she had placed in the pageant.

"I knew I had placed at least, which was so exciting," she said. "So they called fifth runner-up, fourth runner-up, third, second, first... I knew I was in there somewhere, and then they called it out that I had won. I was not expecting it at all!"

As soon as the pageant was over, Looney attended a conference where she was briefed on her responsibilities as the 2015 Arkansas State Fair Queen. Throughout the year, she spoke and read to students at various schools across the state; attended the Arkansas Fair Manager's Association Conference in Hot Springs, where she met people from around the state and spoke at the main banquet; volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Salvation Army and participated in various parades, including the Little Rock parade where she was given the Best in Show Award. She has also emceed at various pageants and will be judging pageants this summer as well.

Looney said that participating in pageants and specifically holding this title has taught her more than she could have ever expected.

"It's hard work!" she said. "It's not just about buying a dress and just walking across a stage at all. There's a lot more preparation that goes into it. After having a title, it's a lot harder than what people think it is."

For now, Holly is enjoying her summer working at her business, Studio H Dance Company in Walnut Ridge. She will return to school in the fall and upon graduation in May, she plans to further her education and get her master's degree. Looney is also considering competing in another pageant.

Looney would like to thank her Studio H Dance Company family for all of their understanding and support throughout her year as queen.

"From my dance moms, to my co-owner Holly (Gill), to all the girls... They've been so good, helping me with everything and supporting me," she said.

She also expressed her appreciation to her parents for their support, as well as her directors and mentors from the Arkansas State Fair Queen pageant system: Matt Lloyd, personal director and mentor; Joan Warren, Arkansas State Fair pageant director; and James and Georgia Ratliff, Lawrence County Fair pageant directors. She said she is thankful for all the opportunities and direction they have given her.

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