CENTRE HALL — Winning fair queen contests now runs in the family for this year’s Grange Fair queen, Madison Kauffman.
Her mom, Sue, won a contest in Beaver County in 1989 and was runner-up at the state Farm Show.
Madison Kauffman, a rising senior from Bellefonte Area High School, took home her title Thursday, the opening day of the 2013 Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair. She emerged victorious from a field of seven contestants after an hourlong competition.
“I am so excited,” said the 17-year-old Kauffman, dressed in a pink gown, after posing for pictures with family and friends after she won. “I’ve been coming here since I was little, and this feels great.”
Kauffman’s cheering section in the bleachers of Southside Stage erupted with hoots and hollers after emcee Tor Michaels read off her name.
She’s the daughter of Sue and Chad Kauffman, the latter who was blushing after the show: “I’m the proudest parent in the world right now,” he said.
Madison Kauffman now will be the county’s liaison with the local agricultural community, and she will represent Centre County at the Farm Show in Harrisburg and the statewide association of county fairs in Hershey, both of which are in January.
The 2012 fair queen, Brittany Etters, took her last tour through the fairgrounds with the royal title in a Ford Mustang, waving to the dinner crowds shortly before arriving before the contest started at 7 p.m. Her entourage, the seven contestants, followed in a Grange tram.
Etters teared up in her farewell speech, saying her best memories were promoting agriculture and learning about the industry. She said she met a lot of friends through the experience, and she plans to keep in touch with her.
Etters, 18, of Howard, will be a sophomore at Penn State, where she is studying nuclear engineering.
The first runner-up for 2013 is Kacy Ripka, of Pleasant Gap.
The five other contestants were Selena Richards, of Port Matilda; Jessica Brown, of Bellefonte; Emilie Rogers, of Howard; Alaina Warner, of Howard; and Carly Wojtaszek, of Centre Hall.
Friday’s fair activities continue with animal shows throughout the morning and afternoon, and the baked goods auction is at 4 p.m. in the Grange exhibits buildings.
On Thursday morning, exhibitors brought in entries to the two exhibit buildings, which will remain closed until the baked goods auction Friday. Judging will go on Friday.
Greg Cain walked into the Grange Building on Thursday morning lugging a giant orange pumpkin on his shoulder.
Cain lowered it down, plopped it on the floor, and a Grange Fair worker wrapped a tag around the gourd’s stalk, marking it as an entry in the largest pumpkin category.
Cain’s niece, 6-year-old Lilly Nyman, is the one who is entering the gourd. The uncle was the lucky one who got to haul the beast in. It weighed 81 pounds.
“Yeah, it was getting heavy,” said Cain, of Howard.
Lilly Nyman said the pumpkin dwarfed the other ones in her patch.
“It took out the good stuff from the other pumpkins,” said Lilly, the daughter of Steve and Heidi Nyman, of Howard.
Mona Bowmaster, who helps coordinate the fair exhibits, said she she has 5,700 entries registered for display this year.
One of the early arrivals Thursday morning was an entry in the recycled goods category. The entrant, Joseph Dzvonyicsak, of State College, created a metal stool made from farm machinery.
Bowmaster said the stool’s seat was made from a plowshare, the legs from a weed remover, and two harrow blades (used to break up soil), were attached and hanging down from the seat.
“If you can’t find something you’re into in this building, you’re in trouble,” quipped Tawna Smith, another exhibits coordinator for the fair.