A Fond Fairwell to the 2013 Fair Court, Hello 2014!
Last year we stumbled upon a wonderful tradition for the last day of the Clark County Fair: the competition for the next year’s Fair Court, culminating in the coronation of the Queen. We only saw a few bits and pieces of the tryouts last year so this year we decided to make it our priority for the Last Day of the Fair. Wow, what an unexpectedly emotional day!
The day ended what I am sure was a week-long – or longer – process of activities and interviews and otherwise feeling like being observed under a microscope. There were speeches in the early afternoon, an equestrian competition a few hours later, and then lots of tears and hugs to finish the day and the Fair with the crowning of a new Fair Queen. Note to self: pack Kleenex next year.
Katie and Alexa rocked 2013! Part of the tears, including my own, was saying good-bye to last year’s Fair Court. Although I don’t know either young woman personally, I was there last year when they became Queen and Princess and I have seen them at events throughout the year. Because I was there “when it all started,” I felt a connection to Katie and Alexa. I have been rooting for them all year, clapping and waving with the crowd at parades and rodeos and events in Esther Short Park.
Every time I saw them, including the couple of interactions I had with them during the Fair this past week, both Katie and Alexa were poised and gracious yet still warm and real. Despite the fluffy hair and sparkly belt buckles and bling-y cowboy hats, neither of them had any airs about them. They were simply two young women who obviously love the Clark County Fair and were having the time of their lives encouraging people to come find out why.
It was also clear that Katie and Alexa have a real love for each other. I can only imagine the long hours spent together and the shared experiences that nobody else on the planet will ever completely understand. As the two of them stood on the stage to say good-bye and thank some landmark people in their lives, the true and deep friendship between Katie and Alexa produced many tears throughout the Kids’ Park. Their cowboy boots will be hard to fill. Katie and Alexa did a fantastic job representing my beloved Clark County Fair this past year. I am proud of them and I sincerely thank them.
So those were the sad tears. It always hurts to say good-bye. But then we got to say howdy to a new queen and a new court of princesses! Cue more tears.
The competition was tough. There were just four teens vying for three 2014 Fair Court positions (one queen and two princesses). The girls were asked to do a practical variety of things that they would encounter as representatives of our Fair.
Each contestant had to give a speech about why she loves the Clark County Fair (I clapped any time food was mentioned). They then had to think on their feet with a word association game as well as an impromptu question (What is the biggest issue facing people your age? If you could travel in time, would you rather go back to the past or into the future?). And they had to strut around a stage and pose a la Project Runway. I have to admit, I’m not sure how this last one plays into their typical Fair Court duties, other than it is important for them to look fabulous. Did I mention the fluffy hair?
After a change of clothes and restyling of hair, each girl had to get on her horse and ride around an arena simulating more Fair Court responsibilities. Things like strolling in a parade, carrying a sponsor flag, and riding around really fast while smiling and giving that low but warp-speed wave that cowgirls do.
I have to say, I was impressed by the thought that went into putting the contestants in realistic situations that would be part of their life were they on the Fair Court. The only thing I noticed was missing was being stalked by a Fair blogger (Hi, Katie and Alexa!). I would be happy to offer my assistance for next year.
He was supposed to just kill time. While the judges were tallying their votes between contestants, the main marketing guy for the Fair was handed the microphone and charged with being filler. He started off telling us about his teen trauma of raising a 4-H market sheep without realizing what the fate of his wooly buddy actually was. I was highly entertained yet a little concerned where he might go next. But then he shared some really interesting “behind the scenes” stuff about the Fair Court and his growing involvement and sincere respect for what they do.
Matt told us about how, thanks to a recent sponsorship from Riverview Community Bank, the Fair Court no longer has to spend most of its time looking for donations. Instead, they can focus on their original intent of promoting the Fair. This new approach seems so obvious, it begs the question why it hadn’t been done before. Most brilliant ideas are like that.
We also learned that the Fair Court gets to go through some media training with the help of a Portland television station. I gotta say, it shows. Katie and Alexa were both so comfortable on stage and in the public eye…so much more so than a year ago. I am already eager to see the transformation in the new Fair Court.
And we learned that Matt is fascinated by Queen Hair and all the prep that goes into it. I can’t say I blame him; I was actually envious that he’s seen the phenomenon up close. Apparently it takes over two hours to do Queen Hair. And a lot of Aqua Net. Oh, the ’80s. Nice to know some things are still around.
Picnic bench quarterbacking During the few hours before the Queen and Princesses were announced, Rob and I discussed with great knowledge and experience whom we thought should be the Clark County Fair Court Queen.
We agreed that one girl – Katelyn – really stood out. She was poised, prepared, controlled, and had the slightest bit more maturity about her than the other contestants. At 17 years old, she was neither the oldest (18) or the youngest (16).
Another contestant was clearly at home on a horse. Danielle commanded the equestrian part of the competition and raced crazy fast around the arena with her hand blurred from all the waving.
Mikayla surprised me that she is just 16. She had an ease and comfort about her. She was not rushed or frazzled by anything. She was cool and steady, at least on the outside.
Jaimee rounded out the competition. Although she was a bit nervous – she declared it into the microphone as she began her speech – it was clear her heart was totally in the game. Her enthusiasm bounced all over the place. She was also comfortable on her horse, a horse who astounded me by just standing there as she waved a tarp all around him. Plus she got her horse to walk backwards. Maybe I need to ask Jaimee to spend some time with Smokey before next year’s Llama Obstacles competition (see August 11 blog)
And the winner is! At just about 8:30pm…a mere 90 minutes before the 2013 Clark County Fair was but a memory (cue even more tears)…we were introduced to our 2014 Fair Court.
Meet Queen Katelyn (YAY!) and her three Princesses. Yes, three instead of two. With a last minute twist, the selection committee and the generous sponsor decided the Fair really needs all four young women to wave and schmooze and smile and cheer and otherwise promote the heck out of the best county fair in the world. YAY! It was a great surprise! But I have to say, I felt really bad for Jaimee. She spent several seconds too long thinking she had lost altogether. She handled it really well…confirming the decision to keep all four…but I hated seeing her hanging there for a spell.
Congratulations, Queen Katelyn! And congratulations to Princess Danielle, Princess Mikayla, and Princess Jaimee! May you enjoy this year ahead and glean from it rich learning and experience and friendship. I can’t wait to see how grow into your roles. Thank you for taking good care of my Fair for me. I’ll be waving and cheering from the sidelines.
Final Fair Food Feast Parade! I did my best to eat some favorites for the last time until next year. I missed the pie and corn and pad thai and Hawaiian Shaved Ice, though. Oh, and I didn’t get a milkshake. I guess I have a lot of favorites. Hence the need to go all ten days of the Fair.
I walked a solid 4.58 miles for my last day. I will be posting a final blog in the next few days in which I will reveal how much weight I gained eating with deep fried abandon for ten days straight. Stay tuned!