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Article updated: 7/1/2013 5:11 AM

Elmhurst woman crowned Miss Illinois

By Tara García Mathewson

Brittany Smith, of Elmhurst, now has "people." She'll need them to manage more than 300 planned appearances between now and next June.

Smith was crowned Miss Illinois Saturday night, accepting the bejeweled headpiece and all the responsibilities that go along with it.

After a weeklong competition in Marion, Ill., the reality of Smith's win hit her Sunday morning.

"I thought it was a dream until I saw the sash sitting next to me of Miss Illinois," said Smith, a 2012 Purdue University graduate.

Smith has until September to prepare for the Miss America competition where she'll perform an Irish dance -- a skill that earned her the talent award in the Illinois competition last Wednesday.

The national pageant will be held Sept. 15 in Atlantic City, where it will return after six years in Las Vegas. The event will include a parade where Smith is expected to dress in a Blackhawks theme in honor of the Stanley Cup winners, according to Amalia Schwerdtmann, executive director of the Miss Illinois Scholarship Association

Schwerdtmann said Smith has a real chance at Miss America with an overall persona and look that is just what the judges will want to see.

"They look for someone who is relatable to younger girls as well as girls her own age," Schwerdtmann said. "Someone that you can sit down and have a coffee with or go to the movies with."

After preliminaries last week and Saturday's main event, Smith rose to the top in a field of 32 competitors. She got to the state level after becoming Miss Northern Suburbs last October.

Her fellow winner at the local competition, Isabelle "Izzy" Hanson, also had a successful week in Marion. Izzy, a student at Benet Academy in Lisle, became Miss Illinois' Outstanding Teen Friday. The 16-year-old violinist charmed the judges.

Scott Billadeau, teen/pre-teen director of the Miss Illinois Scholarship Association, said Izzy is a well-rounded girl with a great personality and fantastic background in violin, which she started playing at age four.

"She was ready," Billadeau said. "Her goal was to win it."

Izzy will go back to school after the Aug. 13-17 competition for Miss America's Outstanding Teen, which takes place in Orlando. Fla. But she plans to help fundraise to keep music programs in schools during her royal year.

Smith, on the other hand, will take the year off from her jobs as a medical assistant and member of the Chicago Rush Adrenaline Dance Team. She'll take on the state's platform of distracted driving, speak at schools and to scout troops, attend black tie events and participate as a celebrity dancer for a breast cancer awareness event, for starters.

People will be able to follow Smith on her Miss Illinois Facebook fan page and through Twitter once those accounts are set up later this week.

The community can keep up with both girls' official appearances through the Miss Illinois and Miss Illinois' Outstanding Teen/Pre-teen Facebook pages or at missillinois.org, where groups can also book Smith's time while she's queen.

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