One young woman emerged from the smiles, cheers and glitter on Sunday night as the face of the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair.
Emma Alexander was named the 2014 Bartholomew County 4-H Fair Queen, edging out 16 other candidates to win the judges’ favor and the crown during the pageant at Columbus North High School’s auditorium.
Alexander, 18, just graduated from Columbus East High School and will start her freshman year this fall at Purdue University. She plans to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering in hopes of continuing on to a career in biomedical engineering.
“I’m so happy,” Alexander said just minutes after receiving her crown and gifts. “I’ve wanted it since I was little.”
It’s an honor she wanted but not one she expected, she said.
She’s a 10-year member of the Four-Leaf Lions 4-H club and has attended the pageant and local fair every year, but this was her first attempt at the queen’s crown.
And she said she didn’t expect to win on her first try, especially because several other contestants had participated in the pageant before.
Once the surprise of hearing her name and receiving the crown wore off, Alexander stayed on stage for plenty of hugs and lots of photos with family, friends and her court.
Alexander’s court includes:
Hadlee Swope, 17, of Edinburgh (first runner-up)
Brooke Stafford, 18, of Hope (second runner-up)
Lynsey Daily, 19, of Columbus (third runner-up)
Rachael Maurer, 18, of Columbus (Miss Congeniality)
Alexander said those four make up “such a good court.” She and all the other contestants had such a fun time preparing for and participating in the pageant, she said.
While the “whole night was great,” the “best time was in the dressing room between events” while the girls were changing and talking, she said.
Alexander said the pageant as a whole was an amazing experience.
She encouraged other girls to participate in coming years. She would tell anyone who is thinking about it to just try it, she said, because she got so much more out of the competition than a crown.
She got memories, the chance to practice her interview skills and advice that will help her throughout the rest of her life, she said — and the best is still yet to come.
Alexander said she is looking forward to Friday and the start of the fair because she is excited to make memories with her court and positively represent the spirit of the fair.
In addition to fun, Alexander will have a lot of responsibilities at the local fair, according to last year’s queen, Brittany Young.
During last year’s fair, Young said, she often arrived at the fairgrounds before 8 a.m. and left after 11 p.m., and there was always something to do.
She helped set up for events, shoveled out pens and handed out ribbons — all while dressed in professional clothes and wearing her sash and crown. And she made memories that she wouldn’t trade for the world.
Alexander and her court are looking forward to having that same experience. Alexander said that, while she excited about the entire fair, she is most looking forward to handing out ribbons.
“I remember when I got my ribbons during the fair, the queen always made me feel special,” she said.
“I want to be able to make other kids and everyone at the fair feel special.”
And she said her overall goal is to give people a “good impression of our fair.”