TERRE HAUTE —
Nine young women practiced Tuesday for the 2013 Vigo County Fair Queen pageant, set for 7 p.m. Friday.
The contestants strapped on their smiles and practiced their opening dance routines, interviews and posture in the old floriculture building at the fairgrounds.
A few changes have been made this year to the pageant, said Joy Jackson, pageant director. The biggest change is that the event will be staged in Indiana State University’s Tilson Auditorium instead of at a local high school, she said.
The contestants will also be holding a People’s Choice Award that will act as a fundraiser, she added. Contestants will decorate jars reflecting their personalities, and the jars will be outside the pageant. People will vote by dropping money into the jar of the contestant they want to win.
“All proceeds of the fundraiser will go toward [medical bills for] Chloe Hurst,” said Kayla Lindsay, the reigning fair queen. Hurst, 12, was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer.
Aside from the fundraiser, the age limit has increased at the state level. Before, contestants could be 16, but now contestants must be 18 by early June to compete at the state pageant. The Vigo County Fair Queen pageant requires each contestant to be at least 16 years of age, and a girl can’t turn 21 by Aug. 15.
Tuesday’s practice marked the next to last practice for the contestants, with the final one being Thursday when they will practice interviews and show off their professional attire. They have been practicing two times a week since the second week in June, Jackson said.
“This has been such a good group to work with, and they are all great role models in the community,” she added.
According to the Vigo County Fair Queen application, contestants are judged on interview skills, professionalism, poise, evening gown and professional wear.
“Honing these skills are valuable,” Jackson said when referring to what the contestants are judged on. “Especially the interview skills, that is huge in the competition and later in life.”
Jennifer Cook, president of the Wabash Valley Fair Association, agreed, adding that contestants improve their time management skills as well because they are required to be a part of an extracurricular activity.
Lindsay described handing down her crown Friday as a “bittersweet” moment for every queen.
“Being queen has been awesome and I have loved it,” she said. “It is a long week being queen at fair. You get to stay in a camper and you make appearances at the cattle shows, derby and other fair events.”
With nine contestants pursuing the crown, Lindsay offered some advice before Friday.
“Don’t set yourself short,” she said. “Let the real you shine through.”
Reporter Dustyn Fatheree can be reached at 812-231-4255 and firstname.lastname@example.org.