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17 compete for 4-H royalty status

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She will wrangle hogs, get into a water fight with 4-H’ers and smile and wave from atop a parade float.

Miss Johnson County 2014 will be at nearly every 4-H event, handing out ribbons and clapping for youngsters showing their goats, cattle and pigs. Little girls will likely ask to try on her crown.

The queen will be the face of the fair and will be one of the most recognized faces the week of the event, an organizer said.

Seventeen Johnson County young women are vying for the role that comes with a lot of hard work. The county pageant will be at 7 p.m. Sunday in the indoor arena at the Johnson County fairgrounds.

Longtime tradition

The queen contest is one of the best attended events of the fair, fair officials have said.

The pageant that will decide who represents the county in dozens of events is more than 50 years old, said Valli Shattuck, fair queen superintendent.

The young woman chosen will have to be poised and outgoing, she said, as the queen not only will work at the fair but also will represent the county at the Indiana State Fair, Shattuck said.

“We are looking for a young lady that will be the face of the fair,” Shattuck said. “She will be out in the public and will be the role model for younger girls in the community.”

The people’s queen

The No. 1 skill a fair queen must have is the ability to talk to people, she said.

The fair queen or a member of her court hands out ribbons to 4-H’ers at every event and walk the midway talking to residents every day of the fair. The queen and her court will be out in the community at lunchtime, advertising the fair.

For that reason, an interview portion with the judges will decide half a contestant’s score, Shattuck said.

“(The pageant) is more than a publicity contest that they model clothes in,” she said.

The rest of the score will come from business and formal wear and an on-stage question that the girl must answer, such as how they would spend $1 and what superpower they would have.

Each contestant will be interviewed by each of the three judges. Judges will ask questions that will give them insights about the young woman.

In previous years, girls were interviewed by all three judges at once.

“We wanted to give them more practice in an interview setting,” Shattuck said.

Their scores will decide who will be the queen and who will be in the court. Audience members can pick their favorite contestant by making a donation. The girl who gets the most donations will win the People’s Choice Award. Donations will be given to the fund for the families affected by the Edinburgh dam tragedy, Shattuck said.

Not just a beauty pageant

Fair queens don’t have to be in 4-H, but the winner should have a strong knowledge of the fair, she said.

“This isn’t just a beauty pageant, to us we want them to know about the fair,” Shattuck said.

Being queen is fun, said Bailey Johnson, the 2013 Johnson County Fair Queen. But the winner should expect a lot of work. Fair days start around 7 a.m. and can go until 10 p.m., Shattuck said.

Their reign won’t end when summer does. Fair queens and their court are expected to be at events year-round, Johnson said.

Johnson and her court were at a fundraising event for the Humane Society of Johnson County and cheered on basketball players at a tournament for Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

“Although it is the Johnson County fair queen, I like to think of it as bettering the community,” Johnson said.

The queen and her court must be mature and organized, since they will be told about an event at the fair or throughout the year once and will be expected to be there and be on time, Johnson said.

“It is a lot of work, but it is worth it,” she said. “It is unforgettable.”

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