CLEARFIELD – Ten young girls will vie to be crowned as the 2017 Clearfield County Fair Queen. The contestants were introduced at the 29th fair queen banquet Sunday evening at the Expo II Building at the fairgrounds.
Reigning Fair Queen Rachel Duke of Clearfield will crown the new queen Sunday, July 30. The fair queen competition will get under way at 4 p.m. at the grandstand stage at the 157th Clearfield County Fair.
Last year’s first- and second- runners-up, Emily Andrulonis of Treasure Lake and Cassie Folmar of Luthersburg will return to the contest. Andrulonis and Folmar were the second- and third- runners-up in 2015.
Cassie Folmar is the younger sister of 2014 Fair Queen Chelsea Folmar. Ronni Berlin and Hali Murray, both of DuBois, and Jayna Vicary of Curwensville are also returning contestants.
The other 2017 contestants are Samantha Yarger of Houtzdale; Lindsey Swisher of Clearfield; Sarah Simcox of Curwensville; Kacie Means of Rockton; and Rebecca Liddle of DuBois.
Rachel Carr Davidson, fair queen committee member, provided an overview of the competition. It closely resembles the Pennsylvania State Competition, at which the newly-crowned queen will represent the Clearfield County Fair.
According to her, contestants have already completed the first segment of the competition, a personal essay on what the fair means to their community.
The day-of the competition, they will appear for a personal interview with the panel of judges. Judges will ask contestants about topics related to the fair and agriculture as well as the contents of their personal biography, she said.
Afterward judges will have the chance to observe the contestants at a reception that is a non-judged component. It was recently added to make the county competition more like the state contest.
And then on-stage, contestants will compete in a timed three- to five-minute speech on why people should come to their fair and an evening gown/personal introduction.
Once judges select a Top 5, those contestants will advance to answer an impromptu question.
At Sunday’s banquet, the guest of honor was Hilary Hauck, a freelance writer and translator who is originally from England but moved to Pennsylvania later in life.
She told the contestants that their participation in the fair queen competition would grant them opportunities to develop leadership skills through public speaking, fundraising, etc.
Regardless of their individual outcome – fair queen, first runner-up or contestant – she encouraged them to continue to nurture the development of their leadership skills.
As well, Hauck encouraged the contestants to acknowledge gratitude. She had slips of paper given to each of the 10 girls and asked them to write expressions of gratitude related to family, community and themselves.
She had the 10 girls link their expressions of gratitude together to form a chain. She said it was her hope that they would continue to add links to their chain of gratitude.
Fair Manager Greg Hallstrom said the Clearfield County Fair was the fourth largest in Pennsylvania, and it had the top fair queen program.
Fair queen programs around the state are always striving to imitate and become as successful as Clearfield. “Listen to your committee and you will go far,” he said.
Hallstrom also promised the contestants that at the Pennsylvania Fairs Convention – or somewhere along their fair queen journey – they will meet someone who will change their life forever.
In 2017, 60 girls, including Duke, competed at the Pennsylvania State Fair Queen Competition. Duke earned a spot in the Top 5 and was named the Pennsylvania State Alternate Fair Queen.
Her “whirlwind” as queen began with the fair and took her on a journey of countless events and charitable fundraisers with the Queens for Cause being dearest to her heart.
“Experience as much of the Clearfield County Fair and Clearfield County as you can,” Duke said, calling the fair her “second home,” which also came with a “second family.”