102 Contestants... Down to One

I had the honor of judging the Iowa State Fair Queen Contest. 102 lovely ladies. One winner.

Let me first preface something. The Iowa State Fair is a magical place for me. You’ve probably heard the word “magical” when people talk about Disney World. It’s not Disney, but it’s magical on a different level.

You see, I grew up at the fair. Some of my fondest memories of childhood are camping with my older siblings and watching them in the show ring. It’s a place where you connect with old friends, maybe just that one time a year. It’s a place where I showed horses and static projects. It’s also a place where traditions were made and I’ve now passed those traditions on with my kiddos.

For instance, the “big yellow slide”. The best $3 you can spend.

Or the Ye Old Mill. This is one of the cheesiest rides you’ll ever go on, but I love it! Let me set the scene…  boats on a conveyor belt and when it’s your turn, you hurry, and jump on it. You’re then in the dark, in the water, for maybe 3 minutes (it’s quick). You randomly see some lit up signs along the path that talk about the Iowa State Fair. As I got older, it’s somewhere you take your hunny to do some smooching. Or if you were my mother-in-law as a teenager, it was somewhere where you dumped soap one time in the water and because the bubbles got so extreme, they had to close the ride (sorry, Debbie, I had to tell it! :))

There’s another tradition at the fair that I loved to watch as a little girl and now have had the pleasure to judge and that’s the Iowa State Fair Queen Contest.

Iowa has 99 counties. Each county has a representative, but wait for it.. there’s more. There are a couple of counties that have more than one county fair (I know, right?). So that makes for a pageant of 102 contestants.

The contest takes four days. Each contestant has a 5-minute interview, a group interview and a rapid fire, 1-minute interview. The judges are also with the girls during meals and other functions.

Something unique that I really love at this pageant is how the coordinator and board give back to the girls through workshops when they’re not in interviews. Modeling, workouts, manners class, etc. It takes a ton of preparation, but talk about an impact. It was extremely fun to see the difference in contestants from when I first met them on Wednesday until crowning on Saturday night.

What are some other examples you’ve seen at other pageants? I’m always looking for ideas for my pageant that I coordinate. But of course, time and money are always short (believe me, I get it.) So ideas on easy and low cost are right up my alley. Feel free to flood my inbox with ideas! We’ll feature them on social.


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