Eight years ago, I stood on this same stage, holding the hands of the girls beside me, and waiting to hear whose name would be called as Missette Butte County. At ten years old, I couldn’t grasp the scope of the change that the Miss Butte County Scholarship Program would bring to my life, or how it would shape the woman I became eight years down the road.

My name is Brianna Brockman, and I am proud to be your 2016 Miss Butte County, your 2012 Miss Teen Butte County, and your 2009 Missette Butte County. I am the first person in the Program’s history to achieve all three titles consecutively, and that is an honor that I will forever hold close to my heart.

Believe it or not, this all started in the boys toy aisle of Target. It was my childhood friend’s birthday, and my mom and I had called his mom to find out what we should get him as a gift. Instead of answering the question, she went on a tirade about how I should compete in this pageant program at the fair and how I was perfect for it. After a few days and a long conversation with my family, we decided it was worth a shot, even though we had no idea what we were doing. As I was told later by my parents, I “wasn’t supposed to win.” My participation in the program was meant to be a learning lesson on how things don’t always go your way. Needless to say, their plan backfired a little bit.

And here I stand, one month from flying to LA to start school at UCLA, and saying goodbye to something that has been a large part of who I am for nearly half of my life. It has given me confidence in myself and my skills, has turned me into a public speaker, and instilled an everlasting love for my community. Whether it was a holiday parade, a fair to attend, a community event to help at, or a benefit to promote, I was there, and I couldn’t have wished for a better way to spend my last year in Butte County.

I was once told that when it comes to holding a title, you make your year, and I honestly believe that is the most spot on statement about Miss Butte County. Sure, we do hundreds of hours working in our community, but you choose how to enjoy it. You find little things in each event that just make everything fun and worth it, whether it’s the honest words of thank you from a vender, the smile on a young girl’s face when you hand her a Lolli pop, the firm handshake of an event organizer who asked you to help because they were shorthanded, or seeing the beautiful flowers blooming here on the fairgrounds after hours spent planting them. And not to mention, the lifelong memories that will follow me for the rest of my life, like the time I did the Gangnam Style dance on our decked out tropical paradise float in the Chico Parade of lights, or when Melanie and I stood in the pouring rain outside of JCPenney’s in Chico, ringing the Salvation Army bells and singing Panic at the Disco songs. This year was amazing.

Thank you for having me as your 2016 Miss Butte County and thank you to the Butte County Fair Board and CEO Steve Kenny for continually supporting such a life changing program. I’ve loved every second I spent growing up and working in our amazing community, and no matter where I go, I will always call this place home.