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ST. MARYS — A member of Auglaize County Junior Fair royalty now has a new crown to add to her collection.
University of Dayton freshman Sarah Wilker took home the title of Ohio Fairs Queen for 2013 following a competition during the first week of January in Columbus. Wilker qualified for the event when she was named the 2012 Auglaize County Junior Fair queen in July.
The competition, which was held in Columbus starting on Jan. 3, featured 66 other queens from across the state. To start the competition, each girl was interviewed for 10 minutes by a panel of two judges.
“From there, there was a dress rehearsal for the ceremony, which was later that night,” Wilker said. “All 66 girls got up on stage and said their name, what county they were from and where they went to school. Then they announced the top 15 based upon the interviews and applications.”
After judges announced the top 15, the girls had to pull a question and answer it on stage. Wilker said that process caused her to become a little nervous.
“It was nerve racking because we hadn’t seen any of the questions before that,” Wilker said. “I was definitely nervous.”
The judges again deliberated and the top 5 finishers were announced. Again, Wilker made the cut. The top 5 then underwent an interview with the eight judges, which was used to select the winner.
On Jan. 4, the top 5 attended several luncheons and got the chance to meet a variety of state and local officials. The next day, the winners were announced in a morning ceremony. One by one, the winners were called in reverse order until Wilker heard her name as the new Ohio Fairs Queen.
“I went into it just doing this for the experience,” Wilker said. “You get to meet a lot of really nice girls and I really wasn’t planning on making it this far. If you didn’t make the cut on Thursday, you could go home so I didn’t even bring enough clothes with me. I had to go home and bring some more clothes back. It was really exciting and at first it was overwhelming — it’s a big commitment.”
As Ohio Fairs Queen, Wilker is tasked with visiting as many county fairs as possible during the summer fair season. The win also made a bit of local history as Wilker is the first state fair queen from Auglaize County.
“You have to travel around to all the area fairs and promote them,” Wilker said. “I’ll be looking forward to that this summer and getting to travel all over Ohio and see the different fairs.”
In addition to promoting the fairs, the daughter of Cindy and Gene Wilker, of St. Marys, will get the chance to promote the 4-H program. Wilker was a 13-year member of the Buckeye Beavers 4-H Club.
“I’d definitely recommend people to do it,” Wilker said of the county fair queen competition. “I did the first year I could and I didn’t even make it on the court. So even if you tried before and you didn’t make it, try and work hard. Even if you don’t win, it’s a great experience and it just really helps you become a better leader and a better person.”
Wilker also thanked members the Auglaize County Agricultural Society, or Fair Board, for their support during the competition.
“They supported me financially as well as in person by going to the state competition,” Wilker said. “It was really cool to see a lot of the senior Fair Board members there with all my family watching. It was something I definitely appreciated.”