Photo: David McGregor Annie Wilson waves to the crowd shortly after being crowned Miss Gwinnett 2011 at the Gwinnett County Fairgrounds on Saturday night.
LAWRENCEVILLE -- There was a clogging exhibition, a couple of piano recitals and a whole lot of singing. There was even a brief discussion about the budget crisis and the performance of an aria from a Puccini opera.
Outside, visitors to the Gwinnett County Fair ate funnel cakes, voluntarily rode vomit-inducing attractions and tried their hand at carnival games.
But inside a nearby exhibition hall, among 15 other contestants and their various talents, platforms and swimsuits, Annie Wilson was busy becoming the next Miss Gwinnett County.
"This is amazing. I really could cry," the 21-year-old from McDonough said. "I'm like shaking I'm so excited."
Though the title is technically "Miss Gwinnett," contestants are eligible to compete if they live or go to school in some 100 counties in northern and central Georgia, from Catoosa to Effingham.
In addition to displays of talent, women aged 17 to 24 answered on-stage questions and participated in evening wear and swimsuit competitions. The evening's festivities are an official preliminary pageant for the Miss America program.
Wilson, a graduate student at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, took home the $1,200 scholarship and the tiara. Thanks in part to a booming performance of a classic Etta James song, she became the 34th Miss Gwinnett County.
"There are so many good girls, they're amazing women in every way possible," she said. "To even be acknowledged is ... I don't even know. It's definitely an honor."
Two Gwinnett County high school students -- Felicia Partin, a senior at Peachtree Ridge, and London Taylor, a senior at Mountain View -- competed in Saturday's pageant but did not place.