The Centre County Grange Fair queen contest participants will have a little more of a challenge this year in the quest for the crown.
The committee that oversees the contest decided to add a question-and-answer portion, in which contestants pull a question from a hat and respond on the spot.
“It will be more challenging for them, but we think the girls are bright enough to do a good job,” committee member Gladys Houser said.
There have been as many as 13 entrants and as few as five in a single year, committee Chairwoman Virginia Letterman said. This year, there are six.
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Emily Allegar and Halee Wasson, of State College, Makayla Dreibelbis, of Centre Hall, Nikaelin Pacella and Carly Wojtaszek, of Bellefonte, and Alissa Woomer, of Howard, will vie for the Grange Fair queen title.
“It’s up and down each year,” Houser said. “There are some years we’ve had more contestants and other years there have been fewer girls.”
To be eligible, each girl must be single and between the ages of 16 and 20 and from Centre County. She also must complete an application that includes an essay on “What the Centre County Grange Fair Means to my Community.”
Last year’s winner was Madison Kauffman, a Bellefonte Area High School graduate, who then placed in the top five at the state competition.
Eleven years ago, former Grange Fair president Joe Hartle approached volunteers to lead a queen contest committee. He wanted to start it so Centre County could be represented at the annual state pageant.
Letterman said she was teaching at Bald Eagle Area School District at the time and figured she’d take on the role.
“I was always around kids, and when he asked if I could do it, I stepped up,” she said.
On Aug. 20, the contestants will gather at a luncheon at Mount Nittany Inn before their individual interviews with three judges. That evening, there will be an evening gown competition, talent contest and the question-and-answer portion before the winner is crowned.
“We really look for someone that represents this area well and has an interest in agriculture and the Grange Fair,” Letterman said. “They’ve always made us proud.”
The committee annually brings in three judges from out of the area who have pageant experience.
“We want it to be as unbiased as possible,” Letterman said.
The winner will receive $500 from the Grange Fair and $100 from the Milesburg Lions Club, in addition to a cosmetic basket with other goods worth about $300. The runner-up will receive $300 from the Grange Fair and $75 from the Lions Club. All other contestants will be given $100 for participating.
The winner will represent Centre County at the state queen contest in Hershey in January.
In the first 10 years, Centre County contestants Kauffman, Meaghan Schadle, Krystal Wasson and Nicole Wasson have made it to the top five at states, Letterman said.
“We’ve had some really talented girls, and this is a great way to showcase some of the best,” Letterman said.