Getting Personal: Gracyn Allen

Getting Personal: Gracyn Allen

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today reigning Champaign County Fair Queen Gracyn Allen chats with The News-Gazette's Paul Wood. The 17-year-old from Homer has a lot of duties as queen, but now school is starting back up and volleyball is a big part of her life.

Shakespeare said heavy is the head that wears the crown. How heavy is that crown?

When I first held the crown, I thought that it would be so heavy to be on my head and that I would notice it all the time. Once I put it on, I did not even think about the weight of the crown, and, sometimes, I forget it is even there.

What have been some of your duties as the queen?

As the queen, I spent the whole week at the county fair doing many things. I handed out ribbons for all of the different livestock shows throughout the week. I also saw how hard 4-H works by going through the different exhibits and going to their livestock shows. I got to introduce all of the grandstand events. I even got to go backstage and meet all of them, and that was so much fun. I spent the whole week with my Little Miss Addilyn, and we had so much fun eating fair food, riding rides, meeting people, taking pictures, going to livestock shows and attending the different grandstand events. As the Champaign County fair queen, I will do many things throughout my year. In addition to the fair, I will continue to represent Champaign County by attending many fundraisers and parades. I will also continue to show how important and successful agriculture is within our county. I will also be attending the State Fair pageant in January to compete for Miss Illinois County Fair Queen. I am looking forward to this fun and exciting year.

As a fair queen, you're a role model for a lot of young women. Is there a special lesson you'd like to teach them?

One of the best parts of being queen is how young girls look up to me as a role model. One lesson I would like to teach them is that they can do anything they put their mind to. If someone asked me a year ago if I would be able to be the Champaign County Fair queen, I would have said no because I am too shy. Now, I realize that being shy is just a choice, and if you believe in yourself and keep a positive mind-set, you can do anything.

The first fair queen, Lois Wood, had to borrow gowns from her friends. Were you well-supplied with wearables?

I was very lucky because I did not have to buy a new gown for the pageant. I used my prom dress from last year. It is my favorite dress that I have ever had, and I was so happy that I got the chance to wear it a second time.

How did you overcome your fear of public speaking to be able to sway over the judges?

I overcame my fear of public speaking by stepping out of my comfort zone and believing in myself. I wanted the judges to see my true personality, and I knew that in order to do that, I needed to clear my mind and just be myself. After I successfully recited my speech, I gained so much confidence. I was so proud of myself, and it is a feeling I will never forget.

You also won Miss Congeniality. Is that something you learned or something you've always had? What's the trick for being good with people?

Being nice to others is something that I have always done. I always see the good in others, and that makes it so easy to be nice to them. I know that everyone is a person just like I am, and you should always treat others the way you want to be treated.

You grew up with agriculture. What was your favorite thing to do among your chores?

Ever since I was younger, I have always enjoyed helping my brothers paint the big fertilizer tanks at my dad's plant in Danville.

What has FFA taught you about life?

FFA has taught me so many things about life. I have met so many great people, and I have attended many different events across the state. It has not only helped me grow and step out of my comfort zone, but it has also taught me how important agriculture is to our lives. In the past three years that I have been in FFA, I have been introduced to how big the agriculture industry is and how much it provides for us.

In Springfield, you spent some time managing the governor's schedule. Politics in the future?

I really enjoyed being in Youth and Government and going to the different events and learning a lot about politics in our country. Going to the Youth and Government state conference and being in the state Capitol building was a very fun and educational experience, but I realized that politics is not something that I am passionate about.

At Heritage, you'll be a senior. Do volleyball and softball rate as high as you prepare for college tests? You've made All-Area in volleyball, so I wondered if you'd like to play that in college.

Volleyball and softball have always been a big part of my life. I have played club volleyball for the past six years of my life, and I always thought it would be something I would want to do when I was in college, but once I got older, I decided I would rather go straight to college instead of playing a sport.

Will you go to the University of Illinois? Good ag school.

Yes, I plan to attend the university next fall. My dad and two brothers both went there to major in agriculture, and that is something I am also interested in. I always thought I wanted to major in nursing, but over this past year, I really have been leaning more toward agriculture.

When you compete against the (Fisher) Bunnies, do you ever think that's not a very frightening name for a foe?

I have competed against the Fisher Bunnies many times in softball and volleyball, and I have never thought of their mascot while playing them. My school's mascot is a hawk, and they are bunnies, but when we play them, it's always very competitive, and they always have a good team.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

Three years ago, my family took a sailing trip around the British Virgin Islands. If I could travel anywhere, I would choose to go back there. It was such a great experience being on a sailboat for a week and seeing all the different islands and all of the beautiful views.

What's your favorite sports team?

The Chicago Cubs. I am a huge Kris Bryant fan. This is the one thing my family doesn't like about me because they are all Cardinals fans.

What would you order for your last meal?

I would order mac and cheese from Noodles & Company and ice cream from the Sidney Dairy Barn.

If you could be reincarnated after you die, what would you like to come back as?

I would choose to be a dolphin because it is my favorite animal, and I think it would be really fun to live in the ocean.

Who are your favorite musicians and why?

My favorite singers are Luke Bryan, Thomas Rhett and Chris Lane. I know all of the lyrics to almost all of their songs.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite? What would you serve?

I would invite Kris Bryant, Chris Lane and Luke Bryan. I would serve chicken strips and mac and cheese because those are my favorite foods, and I mean, who doesn't like chicken strips and mac and cheese?

Who has been the biggest influence in you life?

My grandpa. He always tells every situation like it is and has pushed me to do my best in everything I do, especially sports. For example, if I have a bad game in softball, everyone will come up to me and say "good game," but my grandpa will come up and ask me what I could have done differently in certain situations, and I really appreciate that because that is what helps me learn.

What personality trait do you most hate in other people? Most hate in yourself?

A personality trait that I do not like to see in other people is negativity. Being negative about everything does not help you get through life. Being positive and seeing the best in every situation can not only help you but can also help the people around you. The personality trait that I hate most about myself is being shy and caring too much about what others think.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I handle stressful situations by staying positive and taking a deep breath and by saying "you got this" to myself.