Queen gives peek into hectic fair week

Less than 24 hours after she was crowned, the 2016 Johnson County Fair Queen was already considered a celebrity.

As Katie Ott walked around the midway Monday night, she was stopped 20 times by little girls who wanted to try on her crown, fairgoers who wanted to take selfies with her and friends from her days growing up in Franklin. One lap around the midway took this year’s fair queen two hours to complete.

The fair queen and her court are known as the face of the fair. Ott or a member of her court is at every organized event at the fair.

Ott’s first two days as fair queen were spent handing out ribbons at livestock shows in the indoor arena, watching horse shows, fielding questions from preschoolers and tasting lemon-flavored treats at the fair baking contest.

The job started the second the tiara touched her head Sunday night. After posing for photos with her court and lots of hugs from friends and family, Ott took a victory lap around the fairgrounds in a golf cart.

“It was a whirlwind,” she said.

Every night, the queen goes over her schedule for the next day with the fair queen superintendent. Her court helps her to make sure that Ott is at every event of the fair, said Bridgette Hardamon, assistant fair board member.

“(Her schedule) is almost down to the hour,” she said. “It’s almost that she has to be everywhere at the same time.”

Photos with Northwood Elementary School preschool students were on her agenda Tuesday morning. They asked her questions about how she got ready for the fair, and she told them about how she also went to Northwood Elementary. And then she took a photo with her kindergarten teacher.

Hours after her daughter was crowed, Ott’s mother was out buying sundresses for her to wear the week of the fair, part of the suggested dress code for the queen and her court. They are always being watched at the fair and must be dressed modestly and agree not to cuss or drink alcohol and to represent the fair in a positive manner, Hardamon said.

“She is in the eye of the community,” she said. “She is a hot item at the fair.”

The exposure is part of what made Ott want to be fair queen. She wants to talk about 4-H and how to get involved to the people she chats with, she said.

“I plan on using this to give back to 4-H as much as I can.” she said. “Even if that is talking to one person on the midway (about 4-H), that is more than I did yesterday.”

Ott joined 4-H as a child after watching her babysitter doing her 4-H projects.

“I would always talk about 4-H, and we would make crafts and bake cookies,” said Hall.

As a third-grader, Ott baked some chocolate chip cookies, took photos of her dad and brothers on Franklin College’s campus and sewed together a skirt.

After that she was hooked. She liked that 4-H judging allowed her to get feedback on her work and ways that she can improve, she said.

“I think that is what it was more than anything, getting an honest opinion of what I was doing,” she said. “I wanted it given to me straight, even as a little third-grader.”

As a freshmen at Franklin Community High School, she began showing swine at the encouragement of her 4-H leader.

Ott, who grew up in the city of Franklin, had to keep the swine at her leader’s house. She showed for three years and showed again this year after a fellow 4-H’er agreed to take care of her animal, she said.

“I can’t keep a pig on Main Street in Franklin,” she said.


Name: Katie Ott

Family: Daughter of Brad and Kristi Ott

Honor: 2016 Johnson County Fair Queen

Education: Recent graduate of Franklin Community High School. Attending Purdue University this fall.

Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.