by Emily Armentrout
A venue fit for royalty, the Ford Theatre at the Honeywell Center housed the Wabash County 4-H Fair Queen Pageant again this year. Community members gathered on June 29 to watch the 2014 Wabash County 4-H Fair Queen, Amanda Underwood, North Manchester, be crowned.
The evening was hosted by Roderick Schram, with performances by the pageant contestants and Brooke Pratt, who performed her original song “Indiana Sky,” and Katie Jones and Kaitlan Tracy, who tap danced to “You Make Me Feel So Young.” Pratt, Jones and Tracy took part in one of the newest programs for the fair, the Performing Arts program.
Wabash County Extension Director Teresa Witkoske and Doug Mays discussed changes coming to the 4-H Fair, which include the Pledge of Allegiance and the 4-H Pledge being said before each livestock show and the new online enrollment process, which will be open from November to January.
Judging for the pageant took place on Sunday, June 22. The judging was based on poise, personality and the ability to converse. The judging was divided into three categories, which included the interview portion, professional wear and eveningwear.
After meeting all 22 contestants, 2013 Wabash County 4-H Fair Queen Kylie Echard gave her farewell speech and her advice to the new queen and the court. “Even though it’s not going to go how you planned, just have fun and go with the flow, because it’s going to go by fast,” said Echard.
2013 Miss Congeniality Hannah Cole was on hand to announce the 2014 Miss Congeniality winner Alyssa Lambert. Lambert received the Maxine Howard Memorial Scholarship, along with a sash, plaque, engraved pen, embroidered tote bag, five complementary lunches, gifts from local businesses and a parking pass for the 4-H fair.
Third runner up and next member to be named to the court was Arie Kennedy, with Katlyn Hippensteel as second runner up, and Abby Lybarger as first runner up.
The room was silent in anticipation for the announcement of which of the remaining 18 contestants would be crowned queen. When Amanda Underwood’s name was announced, she was visibly surprised. After being crowned by Echard, and taking her first walk at the 2014 Wabash County 4-H Fair Queen, Underwood was embraced by her court and then her fellow contestants.
“I am shocked,” Underwood told The Paper. “I felt good about the interview but there’s so many awesome girls, who all did amazing and I don’t know, I thought I knew who was going to win and so it was weird. When they called my name, I was about to start clapping and then I was like “Oh, that’s me. Oh my gosh, what do I even do?,” continued Underwood.
Shaking during the interview, Underwood recounted her favorite part of the fair before the queen contest. “My favorite part was always the atmosphere. Everybody was there for the same reason. They all love Ag or other kinds of projects. You make so many new friends and you get to spend the whole week with them, and that’s really fun.”
2014 marks Underwood’s 10th year in 4-H and her third year as a part of the queen pageant. “When I was younger, always seeing the queens pass out the ribbons and in the crown, it seemed so important. I thought it was important to be a role model for all the younger girls. My sister did the contest when she was in high school, and I always looked up to her.”
Though Underwood is excited and grateful to be crowned queen, she found it incredibly unexpected. “Honestly, I’m really glad I won, but I never imagined this. Every year, I’ve just been so excited about the dance practices and performing. That’s the best part.”
Underwood is also excited because the first runner up is her best friend, Abby Lybarger. “It’s going to be awesome to do this with her. I’m so excited about spending time with the other girls.”
“I’m excited to be by her side and go through everything with her and keep her calm through everything,” said Lybarger.
Underwood is familiar with the other girls, through 4-H and school but is looking forward to the relationships she will be able to build with them during fair week. “I’ve known Alyssa since my first year and Katlyn goes to my school. We’ve been doing FFA and 4-H together for years. She’s so nice. I don’t know Arie as well, but I’m looking forward to getting to know her. I’m so proud of all the girls,” added Underwood.
To prepare for fair week, Underwood has a couple things she needs to take care of including freshman orientation at Ball State University and getting work off and also seeking help from Echard. “I’m going to talk to Kylie because I have no idea what I’m in for. I didn’t know what I was doing to do if I won. I need to get off work. I didn’t even think of that. I’m just going to prepare,” said Underwood.