While in first grade, Emma Connelly's introduction to the Brown County Youth Fair was showing goats in the peewee division. A decade later, Connelly was crowned the first Miss Brown County Fair Association of the 2020s.

The 2020 Miss Brown County Fair Association Coronation was held prior to the start of Saturday's premium sale, which is the final event for the annual youth fair each year.

Connelly, a junior at Early High School, emerged from a group of contestants that included Kimberly Diaz of Bangs, Rylan Morgan of Brownwood, and Mackenzie Traweek of Bangs.

Connelly is the daughter of the Jennifer Connelly and the late Clint Connelly of Early, granddaughter of Debbie and Guy Shults of Brownwood, and Chris and Cynthia Connelly of Burkett. She also has two sisters, Guyer Connelly and Shaunna Kay Simpson, along with her brother, Austin Simpson, who was her escort Saturday.

“My father up in heaven, I'm proud that he got to watch me up there,” Connelly said following the coronation. “My mother has always supported me, along with my brother and both sisters who are always there. They're the reason I am who I am today.”

Connelly looks most forward to becoming a role model for the county's youth as she begins her duties as Miss Brown County Fair Association.

“I get to be a role model to little kids and be someone that's always there for them to go to and have someone when they don't have anyone else,” Connelly said. “If they just need help, I'm going to be there for them.”

Connelly also spoke about the differences in taking part in the youth fair as a Miss Brown County Fair Association contestant compared to a traditional participant.

“This year I got to meet a whole bunch of new people and I've got to experience many different things,” Connelly said. “I got to escape all the fears I had of being in front of a whole bunch of people and talking in front of a bunch of people. It's really allowed me to open up.”

Along with pigs, Connelly has showed goats and competed at all the major shows in Texas and placed in the top 10 at Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and San Angelo.

While in junior high and high school, Connelly has also has participated in volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, track, cross country, softball, National Junior Honor Society, high school rodeos, and judging team. She is a member of the Early Church of Christ and a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes team at Early High School

Connelly's father, always Emma's biggest supporter, taught her a love of the outdoors and hunting. She enjoys raising her longhorns, a herd they started together before he passed, as well as running barrels and roping in local rodeos.

“I plan to go on and rodeo at Cisco College and then go from there,” said Connelly, who intends to follow in her father's footsteps and pursue a degree and career in wildlife biology.