When her name was announced as winner of the 2016 Bartholomew County 4-H Fair queen pageant, this year’s queen was in disbelief.

Bailey Meyer was certainly not a stranger to the pageantry side of the Bartholomew County fair when she took the stage with 18 other young women Sunday night at Columbus North High School. The 17-year-old was a contestant in the fair princess pageant in 2012 and also in last year’s queen contest, where she secured a spot on the queen’s court by placing as the third runner-up.

Despite her initial success on the fair pageant circuit, Meyer said she was more nervous at Sunday night’s contest than she ever had been in the past. But when her name was called as the leader of this year’s fair royalty, the Columbus East High School senior said all those nerves gave way to pure joy.

“(I’m) ecstatic,” the newly crowned queen said in between rounds of hugs, laughter and photos with her friends and fellow contestants. “I didn’t think this would happen.”

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But Caitlyn Williams, the 2015 Bartholomew County Fair queen, said she never doubted that the member of her court would trade in her princess tiara for the queen’s crown.

The 2015 queen said Meyer approached her before Sunday’s competition and asked for advice on nailing her performance. But rather than shelling out a list of pageantry do’s and don’ts, Williams said she encouraged her friend to just be herself.

“I told her, ‘You have nothing to lose. They will love you,’” Williams said.

With that advice in hand, Meyer stayed true to what she knew on Sunday night, donning her official FFA uniform for the theme-wear portion of the evening, when contestants were asked to honor Indiana’s bicentennial celebration by dressing in an outfit that reflected the heritage of the Hoosier state.

As the local FFA chapter president and district FFA treasurer, Meyer said she believes her experience with the agricultural organization will equip her with the skills she needs to achieve her dream of becoming an agriculture teacher and one day running her own family farm.

The 2016 fair queen went on to share her love of Indiana football during the evening gown portion of the competition, when she was asked to identify her favorite Hoosier sports team.

“My favorite Indiana sports team would have to be the Indianapolis Colts because we have Luck on our side,” Meyer said, eliciting chuckles from the audience.

With the queen’s crown now securely in place, Meyer said she is looking forward to experiencing the fair from a different perspective, such as emceeing the tractor pulls rather than watching them from the audience.

Meyer also said she is looking forward to bonding with this year’s queen’s court, an experience she said was the highlight of her time at the fair last year.

While she is thrilled that the queen’s crown will be sitting on her head this year, Meyer said being the 2016 Bartholomew County Fair Queen will be about much more than posing for pictures and getting special perks.

As a nine-year 4-H’er, Meyer said she knows it is the queen’s responsibility to establish a positive reputation for Bartholomew County and to set a good example for the hundreds of residents she will encounter during her reign as 2016 fair queen, especially as she meets local youngsters who will look up to her for guidance and advice.

“I want to be a role model,” Meyer said.

Queen bio

Bailey Meyer

Age: 17

School: Columbus East High School senior

Parents: Mark Meyer, Shannon Garrison

Activities/interests: Class representative; Family, Center and Community Leaders of America; C4 ambassador; American Pie soloist; District XI FFA treasurer; Columbus FFA president; freshman orientation speaker; photography; fashion

Queen's court

2016 Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Queen’s court

Queen: Bailey Meyer

First runner-up: Haley Embry

Second runner-up: Abigail Jones

Third runner-up: Tessa Fannin

Miss Congeniality: Allison Roberts

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Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.