PERU — Nineteen-year-old Stacia Braden rubbed baby oil all over her arms Friday afternoon as she prepared herself for the greased watermelon relay at the Miami County Fair.
The contest is serious business.
“It gets intense,” she said before it started. “But it’s a blast.”
Braden, this year’s fair queen and miss congeniality, said it’s tradition for the queen and her court, the duchess and her court and the princess and her court to participate in the obstacle course.
They joined more than 20 other barefoot kids on the lawn outside the fair office for the contest.
One by one, the kids and teens took their turn on the course. They had to crawl under hay bales, jump through rings, hop over a rope and jump in a pool all while holding onto to their greased watermelons.
Nineteen-year-old Emilee Sautter, first runner-up in the queen pageant, slipped as she was coming out of the pool and tumbled to the ground.
She got up, laughing as she did, and ran quickly back to the starting line to hand the watermelon off to her teammate – a fellow member of the queen’s court.
“The pool is slick,” she said. “I do this every year.”
Braden said the obstacle course was a good way for all the 4-H kids – and the fair royalty – to relax and burn off some steam after a long week.
The fairgrounds were quiet Friday afternoon. All the livestock shows were over, and kids were waiting for the livestock auction that night. There wasn’t anything else to do, so they had some fun.
The 4-H Junior Leaders have been organizing the obstacle course for at least 12 years.
Eighteen-year-old Wesley Willson helped set up this year’s course. It’s his last year in 4-H, after 10 years in the program.