Ever since identical twins Hallie and McKenzie Risch were old enough to talk, they begged their mother for the opportunity to compete in beauty pageants. Fearing that one sister would be let down if one were to win and the other didn’t, Heather Risch chose not to allow her daughters to compete.
Finally, at the age of 9, the girls began competing and winning titles across the region, and on Oct. 14, the 11-year-old daughters of Scott and Heather Risch made history at the Miss Pre-Teen Kentucky County Fair Pageant held at Louisville’s Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Representing Owen County, Hallie was crowned Miss Pre-Teen Kentucky County Fair, while McKenzie, representing Henry County, placed third runner-up. It was the first time in history a set of twins both placed in the top five contestants in the pageant.
“I was really shocked, like surprised,” Hallie said of her win. “I saw video when we were backstage, and I could see me. I was just playing with my nails, and I was like, ‘Well, I’m not gonna make it.’ But then they called my number, and I was just really shocked and surprised. I was so happy that another Owen County girl won.”
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For their first time at state, Hallie and McKenzie competed against 71 other pre-teens and set a goal of placing in the top 25 contestants, a feat Heather said is “amazing in and of itself.”
The Kentucky Association of Fairs and Horse Shows hosts four pageants each year: Miss Kentucky County Fair, Miss Teen Kentucky County Fair, Miss Pre-Teen Kentucky County Fair and Little Mr. and Miss Kentucky County Fair. A total of 73 girls, ages 8-12, participated in this year’s pre-teen pageant.
Judges narrow the number of girls down to 25 before announcing the top 10 contestants.
“When they called (the top 10 contestants) I thought I was going to pass out, I was so nervous,” Heather said. “When they called it for the winners I just couldn’t believe it. I remember looking at my mother saying, ‘What just happened?’ I was in shock. I felt like it was a dream. I still feel like it is a dream.”