For the first time since 2007, a Southern Illinois native will represent the state at the Miss America scholarship pageant in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Anna native Crystal Davis, clad in a white sheath dress, was crowned Miss Illinois 2015 on Saturday at the Marion Cultural and Civic Center. She bested 30 candidates from Waukegan to Metropolis to earn the honor. This is the fifth consecutive year that Marion has played host to the pageant.
Davis wowed the packed auditorium with her vocal rendition of "That's Life." When her name was called after a long, still silence, the crowd erupted into applause for their hometown girl.
As part of her winnings, Davis, formerly Miss Southern Illinois, will receive a $14,000 scholarship along with in-kind gifts. Miss Northern Suburbs Lily Arendt was the first runner-up. In a ceremony Friday night, Peyton Tucker was crowned Miss Illinois Outstanding Teen and Virginia Harper earned the title Miss Illinois Pre-Teen.
Ashley Hatfield of Anna, formerly Miss Heartland, won the pageant in 2007. The last Miss Southern Illinois to win was Jaleigh Jeffers in 1982.