By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
ALEXANDRIA, Ind. —
Stephanie Morris found “a way out of my box,” out of the norm she was used to: livestock. How so?
The daughter of Steve and Carla Jo Morris, of Elwood, Stephanie was selected as Madison County’s 4-H queen during the fair’s opening-night pageant Sunday at the fairgrounds.
Her first year running for the title, Morris said the experience was a little awkward at first. But she’s since gotten close to the other girls. As candidate Lauren Santichen explained it, the pageant is nothing like beauty pageants shown on TV with "mean girls."
She said all the girls are very nice and that “the experience has definitely been better than I expected.” She entered the contest in hopes of winning the scholarship as she plans to head to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology this fall.
Some of the 11 girls were first-timers like Morris and Santichen, while others were giving it a second go.
Courtney Purkey did so because she wanted to show other girls it’s OK to be a tomboy – she loves to go out in the woods and play in the dirt — while being a 4-H queen.
“I want to be a teacher and show girls they can do anything they set their minds to,” she said.
Like some of the other girls, Daniele Burnell got some advice from the 2012 queen, Sammi Thurston, for her second time as a candidate. She said she told her, “I’m nervous, Sammi, I’m nervous,” but that Thurston helped her calm down and was a big help.
“It was a great experience last year and it’s been a great experience this year,” said Burnell, who received recognition among non-finalists in the formal wear category.
While it was an emotional time for the girls waiting to know who would be crowned queen, for Thurston it was about coming to terms with the end of her reign and all the experiences that came along with it. “I could keep doing this forever … but I know my time has come to an end,” she said, adding the next queen would be great.
Her advice to Morris was to “just soak it all up and have fun with it.” Asked before the pageant how’d she feel if she won, Morris replied “blessed and honored.” Now she will take her turn serving as Madison County’s representative during 4-H events, including an appearance at the Indiana State Fair.
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