By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
Fighting back tears and unleashing a huge smile, Samantha ‘Sammi’ Thurston was crowned as 2012 Madison County 4-H Fair Queen on Sunday night, during opening day of the Madison County 4-H Fair.
Thurston, daughter of Dean and Julie Thurston of Alexandria, represented the Alexandria Ag 4-H Club and was one of seven young women who vied to become a role model for younger 4-H girls on the Kiwanis Stage.
“I had a lot of fun with it last year. It’s a great experience,” Thurston said of her decision to give the queen title a shot for the second year. She was second runner-up in 2011.
And it paid off.
She said she really enjoyed just meeting new people and getting practice from the interviews. The 4-H experience, the 10-year member said, really helps an individual learn new skills.
A few of the other girls had also tried their hand at queen before, but some were new to the experience, like Alexa Munger who wanted to give it a go during her last eligible year.
Munger said she had a lot of fun meeting new people and gained a lot of confidence during the contest, and suggested other 4-H girls give it a go.
“Always follow your dreams and try,” she said. “Have lots of confidence. Don’t be nervous. Go for it.”
The kickoff to the fair started with a parade Sunday afternoon, and while the fair itself is far from over, the day ended with the selection of the new queen.
The girls started in the afternoon with interviews, worth 50 points of the judging, and finished out the evening with formal and professional wear judging, along with an impromptu question asking what they’d do if they saw someone they knew being bullied at the fair.
Thurston answered that she would “simply go up and tell them it’s wrong, to stop” and added that if they didn’t stop, she’d find someone in charge to help.
Katie McDermit was on hand for the pageant to make her last appearance as 2011’s Madison County 4-H Queen.
“It was a very memorable time. I met a lot of great people,” she said of the experience. “I was a role model.”
McDermit suggested the new queen do all she can during her time in the role, because it passes quickly.
Thurston will start as queen bright and early this morning as she hands out ribbons at the swing show, according to pageant co-director Lisa Rinker.
“(The queen) basically serves as ambassador for the 4-H,” Rinker said. “She represents the 4-H program.”
Thurston will go on to represent Madison County in the state fair, and in parades and contests throughout the year.
While this year’s group of contestants was smaller than last, Rinker said the number fluctuates depending on the year.
Thurston offered some advice for other girls out there interested.
“Just try it. It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “You have nothing to lose, just a positive experience to gain.”
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