CAMDEN – Aubrey Stevenson and Johnathan Cottingim were selected to reign over this year’s fair activities during the 2016 Preble County Junior Fair King and Queen Contest held Saturday, June 18.
Preble Shawnee High School was the site of this year’s contest, which was hosted by 2015 Junior Fair King and Queen Clayton Cruze and Savannah Reece, and King & Queen Committee Adviser Kim Fields.
The event saw five boys competing for fair king honors and 13 girls competing for fair queen, as well as two girls for beef queen, one girl for dairy princess, two boys for goat king, four girls for goat queen, two girls for horse queen, one girl for horse princess, two girls for lamb/wool queen, three girls for nutrition/textiles/arts queen, two girls for pork queen, four girls for poultry queen, three boys for rabbit king, and five girls for rabbit queen.
Cottingim represented Somers Super Livestock and Preble Shawnee FFA. Stevenson, represented the Eaton FFA and Preble County Livestock 4-H Club.
First Runner-Up Fair King and Queen were Hunter Owens, representing Bouncing Bunnies 4-H Club, and Gabrielle Cooper, representing Spic N Span Pots N Pans and Somers Super Beef 4-H Clubs. Second Runner-Up Fair King and Queen were Alex Kerby, representing Top of the Line 4-H Club, and Suzanne Kimball, representing the National Trail FFA and Monroe Better Livestock 4-H Club.
Carley Asher, representing Somers Super Beef and Preble Shawnee FFA, was crowned Beef Queen. Leslie Burger, representing Somers Super Beef, was crowned Dairy Princess. Austin Baker, representing Preble County Livestock 4-H Club, was crowned Goat King. Emma Tobias, representing Top of the Line Livestock 4-H Club, was crowned Goat Queen. Jasmine Mabry, representing Just Horsin’ Around 4-H Club, was crowned Horse Queen. Makayla Morris, representing Just Horsin’ Around and Preble County Livestock 4-H Clubs, was crowned Horse Princess. Faith Estep, representing Lewisburg Blue Ribbon 4-H Club, was crowned Lamb/Wool Queen.
Catie Millhouse, representing the 4-H Syndicate 4-H Club, was crowned Nutrition/Textiles/Arts Queen. Kerriston Wilson, representing Preble County Livestock, was crowned Pork Queen. Rachael Kimball, representing Monroe Better Livestock 4-H Club and National Trail FFA, was crowned Poultry Queen. Landon Owens, representing Bouncing Bunnies 4-H Club, was crowned Rabbit King. Chyann Kendel, representing Monroe Better Livestock 4-H Club and Twin Valley South FFA, was crowned Rabbit Queen.
Fields opened up the competition and after a few announcements and special thanks, she handed the mic over to Cruze and Reece. The pair led the questioning of the king and queen competitors. First, Reece called a name and the competitor gave their opening speech. After that Reece asked the competitor a question for which the individual had prepared an answer. After that, the competitor drew a “fish bowl” question – a random question they had not prepared for. Following this opening sequence there was a 15 minute intermission.
Later, livestock/non-livestock royalty were announced and finally, this year’s king and queen were crowned.
Scoring for the competition is rated out of 100 points. The competitors are rated out of 35 points for their activities (junior fair participation achievement and leadership, other youth activities, and work experience), 15 points for their essay, 20 points for advisor evaluation, and 30 points for personal interview/poise and appearance (attitude, ease in answering questions, how they relate to the audience.)
Cottingim was the first competitor on stage. During his opening speech he listed his numerous achievements. He is 18 years old and a recent graduate of Preble Shawnee, for which he was class valedictorian and president of the FFA chapter. He was also the president of his 4-H club, Somers Super Livestock. He was born and raised in Preble County’s agricultural scene. He is currently serving a term as Ohio FFA State Sentinel. In the fall he will be attending The Ohio State University for agricultural business and applied economics. His plan is to pursue a law degree and then practice agricultural law. His reasoning: “Try to protect a way of life I have grown up so fond of.”
In his planned answer, Cottingim said that above all else, 4-H had taught him dedication.
“Every day I get up early and feed my animals and walk my animals. This is something not a lot of people get the opportunity to do nowadays. Growing up, I had friends who wanted to go out and get dinner or go see a movie and all the time I had to tell them no.” He took that skill and applied it to his future, saying 4-H had helped make him an all-around better member of society. He summarized the personal effects on him, “The dedication I learned right here in Preble County, right here in Preble County 4-H, will keep me on track.”
2015 Jr. Fair King Cruze admitted he had mixed feelings about his own king days coming to an end.
“I am happy to see the younger generation stepping through and trying so hard for it,” he said, but then he explained that it is a sad experience to give up. As sad as it was for him, he had very positive feelings on Cottingim being crowned the new King. He noted, the decision was a very smart one considering his extensive background.
“Especially from his agriculture background and especially with his state sentinel office for FFA,” Cruze said. His achievements were too impressive to ignore.
“I’m pretty excited,” Cottingim admitted following the ceremony, “You know this is my first year running and I didn’t really expect to win and when I did it was a big surprise.”
While many may have assumed he spent hours practicing, he claims differently. “I didn’t say it on stage,” he admitted, “I’m a reserved champion public speaker with FFA. The public speaking is something I’ve always been good at. It comes naturally to me. As far as whether I practiced or not, I feel like speeches come across a lot better when they’re extemporaneous, when they’re off the top of my head. So I knew what I wanted to say, I just didn’t know how I was going to say it until I got up there.”
He added, while he’s always going to be a little nervous before speaking on stage, FFA has taught him a lot of public speaking skills and he’s past the point of getting nervous before a speech.
Stevenson was one of the last competitors on stage. Like her corresponding king, she began her speech by listing her achievements. She is 18 years old, a recent graduate from Eaton High School and the president of Eaton’s FFA chapter. She was also the president of her 4-H club, Preble County Livestock. She was the 2015 Pork Queen. She is on the 2016 royalty committee and is the vice-president of the Preble County Jr. Fair Board. She is also a camp counselor.
In the fall she will be attending IU East for early childhood education, with a minor in special needs.
In her planned answer, Stevenson shared inventive ideas on how to utilize social media while the 2016 Jr. Fair Queen. First, she acknowledged that social media can have its downsides — like misinformation — but she believes ultimately social media is a skill to be utilized, not ignored. She pointed out, the entire purpose of social media is to stay in contact with friends and colleagues. This purpose is something she wants to take advantage of as Fair Queen.
“I will create an Instagram page as the Fair Queen, so we can post all of the outings we go to,” she said. “So everyone in Preble County and even other counties can see what we are doing in our county.”
2015 Jr. Fair Queen Reece spoke during the intermission about surrendering her tiara, and the contenders’ presentations.
“It is very bittersweet, but it’s nice passing it on to someone else knowing what I got out of the experience and knowing that someone else is going to get that experience as well,” she said of ending her time as queen. She added, being Fair Queen has “meant the world” to her. She sees it as the county that she grew up in “having faith in her.”
Stevenson stressed, whomever was crowned the 2016 Jr. Fair Queen needed to have strong leadership and communication skills. She added, being outgoing really helped her get the most out of the experience.
“I think all of the girls [competing] could be a great fair queen.”
Stevenson was overjoyed following her crowning. In between hugs from her family, she said, “I’m very excited. I’ve been waiting for this moment for many years now. Since I was a little girl I’ve wanted to be the Fair Queen.”
She explained that her god-sister had been a fair queenand she always wanted to emulate her. When she was little she thought “fair queens ruled the fair.” She noted,while she had been very nervous on stage, this was her third year running and she had public speaking experience through FFA.
Despite all the skills she has, she was still shocked to be crowned. “I’m competing against some of my really good friends and I felt they all had a really good chance,” she explained, but, she stressed, the competition was fun for her and her friends and no hard feelings were felt due to her winning.
Now the royalty are crowned, the real fun begins. After the competition, Fields handed out schedules to all of the winners and runners-up.
“If you guys need to leave the fairgrounds for any reason that I don’t already know of, please let me know,” she started, “Because the Ohio Fair Queen — and this is an honor — she has been here for the last three years. If she shows up, I need people to show her around.”
She added, the fair king and queen and runners-up have mostly empty schedules, because they need to make an appearance at every event during the fair. She did assure the kids that showing their animals comes first, but she stressed — being crowned royalty is not just for fun, it is also a responsibility.
When asked what she thought of the chosen royalty, Fields said she was satisfied.
“This is going to be a really great group of kids and I don’t think I’m going to have much trouble,” she confided. Being Preble County Fair Royalty is something both she and all of the participants take very seriously.
The 2016 Royalty Committee consisted of Stevenson, Fields, Adult Adviser McKenna Marshall, Carly Asher, Catie Millhouse, and Hunter Owens. Judges were Sally Taggart Deatline, 2001 Preble Co. First Runner-Up Queen and 2001 Preble Co. Pork Fest Queen Runner-Up; Elizabeth Fouche, 2013 Wayne County, Indiana 4-H Fair Queen, and Alyssa Miley, 2009 Darke Co. Jr. Fair Queen.
Donors for the royalty sash pins included Barnes Brothers Show Cattle, 2015 Jr. Fair King Cruze, Eaton Floral, 2004 Pork Festival Queen Elizabeth Fields, King & Queen Committee Adviser Kim Fields, the Garnett Family, the Preble Co. Pork Festival Board of Directors, 2015 Jr. Fair Queen Reece, Somers Super Beef 4-H Club, Lon & Kay Swihart, and Kris Walker with Mary Kay Cosmetics.