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Happy Hearts and Tears of Joy For All at This Pageant

October 27, 2018

Special Needs Pageant

Dressed in formal gowns, Contestants lined up on stage as they waited their turn to greet the judges.

Story and Photographs ©2018 Robin Rayne/ZUMA  Marietta Daily Journal

Marietta, Georgia — With smiles and confidence filling the stage, thirty excited and happy contestants strolled, glided and twirled before a table of pageant judges in the Equestrian Center at Jim Miller Park on a cool September night, hoping to be named Pageant Queen or King.

It was the North Georgia State Fair’s first Special Needs Pageant, and every contestant won hearts and brought on the tears from the enthusiastic crowd and judges alike. 

“This was our first pageant for the special needs community and we hope it will be an annual event at the fair,” explained Renee Fielden, a retired Coca-Cola executive who directed the event. It was produced by the Miss Cobb County Pageant organizers and was open to all, at no cost.

Special Needs Pageant

Julie Denton, from Kennesaw, Georgia, escorts her son Christian, 9, across the stage after greeting the judges.

“All credit is due to Tod Miller, the Fair Manager. He wanted to do something to highlight the Special Populations Day at the fair,” Fielden said.  Miller reached out to Terry Chandler on the Fair Board and Gene Phillips, President of the Miss Cobb County Pageant about producing the pageant. “I’ve been involved in pageants for many years, and I was honored that they asked me to be the director,” she added.


Contestants were judged on attire and personality.  The winners in each division were awarded a specially designed Fair Jacket with the King & Queen of the Fair logo, along with four VIP passes to the fair, she said. Everyone who participated received a pageant t-shirt. 

“There are not many special needs pageants in the area, so this gives everyone an opportunity to participate and showcase their wonderful personalities,” Fielden said.

Special Needs Pageant

Mandy Hoopingarner, 36, from Powder Springs, Georgia, waits for her cue to dance before the judging panel.

Special Needs Pageant

Gracie Randall, 6, from Kennesaw, Georgia, blows kisses to the judges

Special Needs Pageant

A young girl with limited vision is guided by her mother to a mark on the stage where she met the judges

Special Needs Pageant

Al Cosby, from Dallas, Georgia,, kisses his 5-year-old daughter Chesney before he carries her onstage.

Special Needs Pageant

Contestants in the Junior Queen category assemble on stage as winners are announced.


Special Needs Pageant

The contestants wave to the enthusiastic crowd as they wait for results.

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