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We congratulate: Creators of sensational idea

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We applaud an absolutely a wonderful new concept and those who created it.

Sometime over the years the Shelby County Fair evolved into a pageant of pageants.

What began in 1842 as a celebration of farm life and livestock has evolved in 2012 to be a celebration of our children on display like a lot of that livestock, and we venture there are more of the former than the latter entered at the fair.

What for decades was a baby show and a beauty contest for young women now has expanded into a days-long, multi-age-group competition among girls and boys, which would beg the question about whether we have taken this too far.

But just when we felt we were overloaded with pageants, there emerged an idea for a new pageant at the fair, and we think it is absolutely a wonderful concept.

Miss Sensational Shelby – we love the title itself – was the brainstorm of Claire Schaefer, a student at Shelby County High School and a pageant devotee.

As she competed among others, she realized that there was no pageant for others her age who had special needs, that we were segregating the value of many of our young people based on their beauty and talent alone and not on the full range of their gifts.

So she, in conjunction with her sister/artist Kate, came up with the idea of this pageant.

She did the work, created the process and sold it to fair organizers and supporters.

And last Thursday, on the opening night of this 150th anniversary celebration, three girls were crowned in various categories of Miss Sensational Shelby.

They were given the same opportunities to compete as all those other dozens of girls and boys in all those myriad other pageants, and they received the support of their community and the reinforcement that they were equal to everyone else, perhaps even a little more special.

The sensitivity of Ms. Schaefer has brought an amazing gift to our community.

She has reached out to suggest that there is beauty everywhere, not just the places where we think it should dominate.

And we think that is a beautiful idea.