By Grace King, Golden Triangle
Katie Palmer was crowed 2018 Washington County Fair Queen Sunday, July 15.
The 18-year-old graduate from Mid-Prairie High School was one of nine contestants to participate in the Fair Queen competition Sunday, July 15 at the Washington Community Center. On stage, contestants introduced themselves in casual wear, answered a random question in their Sunday clothes and gave a prepared statement in formal wear.
Before Palmer was crowned, 2017 Fair Queen winner Makenzi Marek encouraged the contestants, saying that her reign was extremely fun and adventurous. ?This is the opportunity of a lifetime ? Let?s get excited to welcome a new queen to the sisterhood,? she said.
Marek also had advice for the contestants: Embrace whatever situation you may be thrown into because they might be situations you have never been in before.
Palmer was escorted by her father John Palmer, during the competition, who she said has always been patient with her and supportive of her endeavors. During the random question portion of the evening, Palmer was asked what she would do with 30 minutes of free time a day and why.
?I would play cards with my grandmother because I always learn a thing or two and wins are something to celebrate because she never goes easy,? Palmer responded.
Palmer?s prepared statement revolved around her love for literature. The judges asked: Is literature accessible in Washington and how can it be improved?
Palmer said she believes literature is easily accessible through the numerous free public libraries in Washington County.
Runner-up for fair queen was Madelyn Janecek, 17, who will be a senior at Washington High School this fall. Janecek was escorted by her father, Kevin Janecek, who she said supports all her activities and has attended every one of her dance recitals for the past 14 years.
When Janecek was asked what the perfect age is and why, she responded that it is whatever age she is at the time. ?I wouldn?t want to go back or skip ahead,? she said. ?It?s important to live in the moment.?
During Janecek?s formal wear presentation, she said that she believes strongly in the importance of participation ribbons because everyone works hard to get to where they are, regardless of the outcome. ?It takes a lot of time and effort,? she said.
Peyton Cuddeback was second runner-up. The 17-year-old will be a senior at Washington High School this fall. Cuddeback was escorted by her father, Jeff Cuddeback, who continues to teach her life lessons such as how to work on the family farm.
Cuddeback?s family farm was the feature of her random question response. When asked where she would take someone visiting Washington County for a day, she said her family farm would offer them a history of the county through their small museum and then she would show them the new equipment they use to harvest today. Finally, she would take them to a farmers market, where they could try fresh produce.
Finally, the winner of the Miss Congeniality award was Clara Schmitz. This award is voted on by the contestants. They choose the participant who they feel has made a special effort to be helpful and gracious during the pageant activities.
The 17-year-old WACO High School senior was escorted by her little brother Zach Schmitz. Schmitz told the crowd that Zach has always supported her and attended all of her events so why not bring him along tonight?
?Now I can also tell people he was in the queen contest,? Schmitz said with a laugh.
Schmitz?s first question was what she feels is the biggest challenge facing her generation. Schmitz believes that it?s wanting to grow up too fast and neglecting to live in the moment that is a challenge for them. ?I encourage my peers to soak in what we have now,? she said.
Secondly, Schmitz was asked if the push for education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math lead to a neglect of the arts. Schmitz said that the skills taught in STEM fields use creativity and that the arts need intelligence too.
Other queen contestants were Natally Guzman, Amanda Pfeifer, Madison Ross, Abigail Statler and Kristin Twinam.
The evening was emceed by Miss Iowa 2017 Chelsea Dubczak, of Urbandale, who kept the audience entertained and laughing throughout the night as judges conferred with one another.
Following the contestants? introductions, Dubczak killed time by gracing the audience with two vocal performances ? one operatic, which she sang wearing an elaborate purple ballgown during her Miss America debut in September 2017.
The Fair Queen competition kicks off the Washington County Fair, where thousands of projects created by 4-H and FFA members are displayed. The Washington County Fair is the sixth largest fair in Iowa.
There are 40 graduating seniors from the 4-H program this year, many of whom have been with the program since they were in fourth grade.