Ann-Blair Thornton doesn’t remember the crown being placed on her head or the sash being draped around her shoulders. The second the announcer named her Miss Kentucky, the 21-year-old from Bowling Green was in shock.
“I don’t really remember a second of it,” she said. The judges later told her “that I screamed and fell to the floor.”
Thornton, a Western Kentucky University senior and Bowling Green High School graduate, was crowned Miss Kentucky on Saturday during the pageant at the Singletary Center for the Arts in Lexington.
It was an extraordinary moment for Thornton, who has competed in the Miss Kentucky pageant three times. Saturday’s competition was the first time she represented Bowling Green - contestants represent the towns where they win the local Miss Kentucky pageant to advance to the state competition, and they’re not necessarily their hometowns. Thornton has been Miss Monticello and Miss Cumberland Falls.
But, when she won the crown, she won it as Miss Bowling Green.
“It was very special to bring the crown back to my hometown,” she said. “The community has really come together and rallied behind me, and I can’t say thank you enough.”
About 100 people from Bowling Green traveled to the pageant to support Ann-Blair, her mother, Terri Ann Thornton, said.
“It was a celebration of Bowling Green. It was great having a hometown girl win,” Terri Ann said. “When they called her name, I don’t even think I saw her being crowned because I was so busy hugging all the people around us.”
Ann-Blair wanted to compete in pageants since she was 4 years old, but her parents wanted her to wait until she was old enough to make decisions on her own. She began competing when she was 15 years old, Terri Ann said.
“She has worked very hard,” Terri Ann said. “She has always said she wanted to be Miss America.”
Now, she’s one step closer to that goal. She will soon start preparing for the Miss America competition, which will be in Las Vegas in January. She will be working with a trainer, practicing her talent - piano - with a local instructor, picking out gowns and participating in mock interviews.
“I’ve gone to watch Miss America for the past five years,” Ann-Blair said. “So, it will be very surreal to be on that stage that I have coveted for so long.”
But in the midst of preparing for pageants, Ann-Blair also has concentrated on her studies. She’s a college student double majoring in English and economics, and she plans to attend law school. But she must put college on hold this year to fulfill her duties as Miss Kentucky.
She will live in Lexington for a year, promoting the Kentucky Proud Program for the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and speaking to at least 150 elementary schools, she said.
Winning Miss Kentucky “has always been a dream of mine. At first, it started with a fascination with the sparkly crown,” she said. “As I learned about the job of Miss Kentucky, it became a quest for the greatest job in the world.”