4-H was a big part of my life while growing up. My friends who lived on farms raised cattle or had other farm projects and those of us who weren’t farm kids had food or sewing projects. If 4-H had included genealogy projects back then, I would probably still be a member.
As soon as school was out, we began preparing our entries and looking forward to the county fair, which was usually in the latter part of the summer. The fair lasted about a week and we were there all day, every day. We planned what we would wear, including those new, fashionable Bermuda shorts with knee high socks, all in anticipation of the most exciting event of the summer.
Once the fair started, we would park ourselves on the bales of straw which formed the outer boundary of the cow barn. That is where we ate our lunch, flirted with the boys and watched other fair goers. Sooner or later, every visitor was bound to pass by and we were ready to wave, squeal out a greeting and be very teenagerish. We got a first hand look at who was together and who was not. This was better than keeping up by telephone any day.
Our county fair was an old-fashioned one. It had lots of exhibits, but no carnival rides. There was a special program every night with the most important program, of course, being the crowning of the county fair queen. Each queen contestant had a sponsor and it was considered an honor to be chosen as a candidate. The winner of the county fair contest went on to be a contestant for Indiana State Fair queen. Now, that was big time!
My only foray into queen contestanthood started off very nicely. All of the contestants gathered in a room in a concrete block building on the fairgrounds for a pep talk and some instructions . We were given directions on walking gracefully without loping or swinging our arms like gorillas and how to stand in our high heels with our toes pointed just so. This was not always easy, especially for the girls who were more accustomed to driving a tractor than wearing high heels.
In our grand entrance we were to ride on the back seats of convertibles - two girls per car. We positioned ourselves just so, placing a big smile on our faces and prepared to give that queenly wave. There we were - perhaps ten of us representing all of the young womanhood in our county. Perfectly posed, ready to let our fans, especially our moms and dads, admire and adore us.
The convertibles started moving forward slowly, slowly with the contestants waving and smiling. All went well until my carriage hit a rock, a big rock. Big enough to cause you-know-who to lose her seating on the back seat and slide not so gracefully to the floorboard. Too embarrassed amid the snickers to climb back on the seat, the rest of the ride to the stage found me huddled on the floor.
As you might guess, I wasn’t crowned County Fair Queen, but I have my memories of the great event. Those memories are sufficient to remind me why I never again attempted to become County Fair Queen.