WHEATFIELD — The Jasper County Fair Queen pageant took a solemn tone as the contestants and their families learned the fair had been cancelled while they awaited the judges’ decision.
The four contestants had finished their competitions and were awaiting the news of who would be crowned queen when the announcement was made, but the girls kept their smiles despite the sad news.
Cicily Porter, of Remington, was named Miss Jasper County Fair Queen and afterwards she said she was shocked.
“I was upset. I’ve been really planning this week in my head and looking forward to a normal year," she said.
However, she said she is honored to represent the county as the fair queen.
The fair queen and her court will still be at the fairgrounds for all the 4H livestock activities that will still go on. All the shows will be “show and go” so no animals are kept at the fairgrounds like they usually are.
Due to the pandemic, the queen pageant was held at Hamstra Gardens in Wheatfield, rather than inside the community building at the fairgrounds in Rensselaer. This was the first time the contest was held in the beautiful garden setting in Wheatfield.
Only family members were allowed to view the contest and were seated on the tennis court of the private garden while the contestants modeled their professional and evening gown attire under a pergola covered in colorful blossoms and live greenery.
Porter, a 10-year 4H member and a 2020 Rensselaer Central High School graduate, will be attending IU Northwest in Gary studying Mass Communications. She played soccer at RCHS and will play soccer for IUNW as well. She loves to act and sing.
Each of the four ladies were asked a question during the evening gown portion of the pageant. Porter’s question was what three qualities a fair queen should possess. She answered, “The fair queen should have approachability, leadership and kindness.”
Morgan Risner, who was named first runner-up and Miss Congeniality, said she was also surprised to hear about the fair, but she, too, is honored. “I can’t wait to represent Jasper County,” she said.
Marlene McGing, named third runner-up, said the news was heartbreaking. “I was looking forward to all the fun fair activities.”
She also said, “It’s a great honor to be on the court and to run with these wonderful ladies.”
She will be attending Ivy Tech in the fall.
Hannah Redlin said she was excited to be named second runner-up. She was sad about the fair being cancelled, but she said, “I’m excited about the coming year.”
The Indiana State Fair has also been cancelled, and this year’s queen, who was chosen earlier in the year before the pandemic struck, will preside as the Indiana State Fair Queen in 2021. The next state fair queen pageant won’t be held until 2022.
Emcee for the evening, Alan Washburn of Kentland, who sits on the state fair board, said the only time a pageant wasn’t held before this one was the summer during World War II.
He said if Jasper County chooses a fair queen for 2021, both ladies will be allowed to compete in the 2022 state fair pageant.
While the four contestants were preparing for the evening gown competition, 2019 Miss Jasper County Fair Queen Kelsey Carpenter took her farewell walk followed by her farewell speech. She said during her year as queen, she and the ladies of the court read books to preschoolers and visited nursing homes. She said she had a “blast” riding in the many parades held during the year, including the Touch of Dutch parade, Little Cousin Jasper and the Remington Christmas parade.
This year’s queen and court will miss out on some of those parades as more and more events continue to be cancelled due to COVID-19.
She thanked the fair board, the pageant sponsors and director Ashley Hopp as well as her family. In a tearful voice, she said she will miss the other ladies in her court, especially Kayla Tryon, last year’s first runner-up, because they have become best friends.