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updated: 6/12/2014 5:11 PM

Miss Lake Villa pageant moves to new home at Lehmann Mansion for 2014

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By Megan Swindell

The Miss Lake Villa pageant contestants will vie for the 2014 crown at the popular Lehmann Masion for the first time this year, officials said.

The pageant has taken place at Olive C. Martin Elementary School in recent years. This year's pageant is set for June 30 at 7 p.m. at the mansion at 485 N. Milwaukee Ave. There is a $3 entrance fee.

"The trustees thought it would make a nice backdrop," said Alyce Brownlee, pageant director. "We are opening it up to the community as another opportunity for residents to be on the grounds; it's going to be a whole new experience for us."

Eighteen contestants are set to participate in one of three sections: Little Miss Lake Villa (ages 6-8), Junior Miss Lake Villa (ages 11-13) or Miss Lake Villa (ages 16-21).

Miss Lake Villa will receive a $1,000 scholarship at the end of her reign.

"I know that the pageant went back into the '80s a little ways, but we don't have any records that go back further," said Brownlee, who has been involved with the event for the last 29 years.

Her journey began when the mother of the Lake County Pageant winner in 1986 insisted that Brownlee be her daughter's chaperon through the state-pageant experience.

"I came home and really wanted the (Lake Villa) pageant to be like that," she said.

Brownlee said her goal each year is for the Miss Lake Villa pageant winners to go on to represent the village in the county and state-level pageants.

As director, she said, she gears the Lake Villa pageant toward preparing the participants to compete at higher levels.

"They are really prepared," said Brownlee, who knows a thing or two about being onstage.

"Many moons ago, I was on the 'Ed Sullivan Show' because I won the world championship for baton twirling when I was 15," she said. "I think that's why I like to see really good talent."

The participants will not only be able to bring their talents to the stage, but also leave their mark on one of the most historic buildings in town.

The Lehmann Mansion dates back to 1912 when it was built as a summer home for Edward J. Lehmann and his family, according to the village of Lake Villa website.

The Lehmann family owned mansions and estates on 2,000 acres in Lake Villa during the 19th and 20th centuries. The family had great economic impact on the community, especially during the Great Depression, according to Lake Villa Historical Society documents.

The pageant will give residents an opportunity to appreciate this history in a whole new way, Brownlee said.

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