Illinois County Fair Queen Alexi Bladel will be allowed to complete reign

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Illinois County Fair Queen Alexi Bladel will complete her reign as scheduled, as State Rep. Joe Sosnowski (R-Rockford) announced a dispute with the pageant association has been settled.

“I am pleased to share that Alexi Bladel will be permitted to complete her reign as Miss Illinois County Fair Queen without any restrictions after a positive discussion with the members of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs (IAAF) over the past week,” Sosnowski said in a statement on Friday.

“She will be permitted to participate in the January 2020 pageant to crown the next queen,” he said.

Bladel, who is from Rockford and served as Miss Winnebago County in 2018, was crowned the 60th Miss Illinois County Fair Queen in January 2019.

State Rep. Joe Sosnowski released a statement last Friday afternoon, criticizing the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs (IAAF) for relieving Bladel of her duties as Fair Queen after her decision to join the U.S. Army Reserve.

Sosnowski blasted the decision to relieve Bladel of her duties as Fair Queen, saying, “Alexi fulfilled her responsibilities this summer traveling across the state to county fairs, promoting Illinois agriculture. She is now being unduly punished for her decision to enlist in the U.S. Army Reserve.

“I call upon the Illinois Association of County Fairs board of directors to reconsider their decision and allow Alexi to participate in the January 2020 pageant,” he said.

“I don’t know why they’re claiming that, because that was never stated to her,” said IAAF Queen Pageant Chair Bill Jennings. “It was, in fact, considered by most of the board to be a positive that she was going into the military.”

Jennings says Bladel’s enlistment was not the reason for the board’s decision.

According to Jennings, “The events that resulted in that action occurred prior to our knowledge of her enlistment.”

Bladel earned an associates degree in fire science at Rock Valley College, and had been accepted into the U.S. Army Reserve to become a firefighter.

Bladel notified the IAAF that she was due to attend basic training in February 2020, but was given a “quick ship” date of September 10th.

In a letter dated September 25th, Queen Pageant Director Cathy Redshaw attributed the Board’s action to “recognition of the challenges you have had, and will have, in meeting the terms and conditions of the Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Contract.”

On November 4th, Jennings wrote to Bladel, saying “I am writing on behalf of the Board of Directors of the Illinois Association of Agrigultural Fairs to welcome your participation in the upcoming IAAF Convention and County Fair Queen Pageant… We look forward to you joining us for the 2019 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen pageant in January, culminating your reign as the 2019 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen and crowning the 2020 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen.”

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