Clearfield County gets first look at queen contestants

CLEARFIELD – Fourteen girls from Clearfield County will compete for the title of Clearfield County Fair Queen on July 30.

However, some people got to take a sneak peek at the candidates for this year’s court at a special banquet held Monday night in Expo II at the Clearfield Driving Park.

The contestants hail from all over Clearfield County, and their interests are as varied as the girls themselves.

   And the contestants are … in front, from left, Amber Knepp, junior, Clearfield; Leah Carr, junior, West Branch; Jessica Maxon, 2005 Philipsburg-Osceola graduate and sophomore at Juniata University; Ashley Orcutt, senior, DuBois; Sara Elling, 2006 Purchase-Line graduate, will attend Slippery Rock; and Melinda Korb, 2005 West Branch graduate, sophomore at Slippery Rock. Second row: Emily Leyo, Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School junior from Irvona; Daniele Marshall, senior, DuBois; Sarah Read, 2004 Clearfield graduate, junior at Lock Haven University; Danielle Maines, 2006 Clearfield graduate, will attend Penn State; Alysia Johnston, Curwensville graduate, attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania; Lindsay McClellan, Clearfield; and Vanessa Johnson, 2006 Curwensville graduate, will attend Slippery Rock. Abigail Dressler of Rockton was unable to attend Monday’s banquet and was, therefore, not present for the photograph.(Dawn Walls)

The reigning Clearfield County Fair Queen, Misti Dawn Ellinger, was not able to be at Monday’s event due to work committments in her new job as a flight attendant, but she sent along a message to this year’s contestants: “No matter what happens July 30, you should be proud of yourself.”

Eric Cowden, fairs and agritourism marketing manager for the state department of agriculture, was the featured speaker, and he noted that the Clearfield County Fair Queen program is always a contendor in the state competition. “Of the 115 recognized county and community fairs, 54 have a fair program,” Cowden said.

“Clearfield always makes its way to the top,” he said. “There’s always an excellent candidate from Clearfield County” “Clearfield Fair plat on staying up there as No. 1 in the queen program,” said Arlene Swales, chairperson of the queen committee and honorary “Queen Mom” for each queen since the program’s inception in 1989.

“We’re not going to let all that talent go to waste.”

Also on tap Monday night was the unveiling of the new queen’s dressing room in Expo II. Swales said the queen’s new digs are a far cry from the shared press office in the early days and then the small space in Expo II.

The queen committee received a $5,000 grant to construct the rooms, which include a sitting area and bathrooms.

      (Dawn Walls)

The Clearfield County Career and Technology Center then stepped in to make sure the queen had a place to adjust her tiara. From the carpentry to the electrical and other areas, the CCCTC students and their instructors worked to create a room that is truly fit for a queen.

“We have a beautiful new facility thanks to the help of many, many people,” Swales said. She noted that some businesses in the Clearfield and Curwensville areas chipped in as well, offering reduced or even below-cost merchandise for the room’s construction.

But the real surprise of the night came when the new queen’s room was dedicated. Bob E. Day of WCPA/WQYX literally stopped the show to introduce Dave Franson II, supervisor at Chester C. Chidboy funeral home in Clearfield, and husband of Shaina Williams Franson, past Clearfield County Fair Queen.

Franson said the new quarters were being dedicated to the “Queen Mom” for all of her dedication to the contest.

  (Dawn Walls)

“There are some times when she spends more time with the queens than with her own family,” Franson said. “She is always working to make our fair better.”

Swales said she couldn’t take all of the credit, though, and the “Queen Mom” tipped her hat to her loving husband, Bob, and her children.

“I applaud all of you,” she said.

The fair queen contest begins at 3 p.m. on the grandstand stage at the Clearfield County Fair July 30.

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