Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 2, 2014

4-H members, queen's court have fun Friday after busy fair week

4-H members, queen's court have fun Friday after busy fair week

By Lindsey Ziliak Kokomo Tribune
MC Weekly

---- — 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.

“I’ve been at this a while,” he said.

He said there’s hardly been a free minute for him at this year’s fair. He showed and cared for his pigs, worked at the junior leader food booth, helped set up the obstacle course and attended as many of the fair’s special events as he could.

Really, the only thing he hasn’t done is ride the rides.

“I’m not a big rides person,” he said. “I’m generally too busy for it.”

He also missed the hog wrestling contest. It happened at the same time as the Royal Showman contest he was competing in.

He didn’t mind. Showing his pigs is the best part of the fair.

“Show days are the best,” Willson said. “I’m kind of a competitive person, so I like the competitions.”

He missed out, though. Sautter said the hog wrestling was her favorite part of the fair. The queen and her court competed as a team in the event.

They wore special plastic tiaras and homemade sashes for the event. The sashes said “Miss MiHAMi County.”

They tried so hard but didn’t catch the hog, she said.

“It was difficult,” she said. “Our feet kept getting stuck in the mud.”

She said the team felt better after finding out that only five adult teams managed to catch it. The important thing was that they tried and had fun doing it.

“Just because we’re on the queen court doesn’t mean we can’t get dirty,” she said.

Sautter and Braden said they love the Miami County Fair. The whole community is invested in it – backing the 4-H members who work so hard on their projects.

Braden said she’s thankful she was able to participate an extra year. Last year was her final year in 4-H, so there were no more hogs for her to show like she normally does.

Being the fair queen has allowed her to participate one more time in all the fair activities and see them from a new perspective.

“I’m glad I got to come back for this,” she said.

Lindsey Ziliak, Tribune Life & Style editor, can be reached at 765-454-8585, at lindsey.ziliak@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @LindseyZiliak.