Grange Fair queen. It’s good work if you can get it.
State College Area High School senior Emily Allegar has spent the past year promoting agriculture to youth, riding in parades and exchanging pleasantries with country musician Garth Brooks.
All good things must come to an end, though, and during the 2015 Grange Fair, Allegar will pass her crown on to one of eight potential successors from across Centre County.
Recently, Allegar recapped some of her highlights from the past year and offered words of advice to the incoming Grange queen.
Q: The Grange Fair queen serves as an ambassador for Centre County agriculture. What role has agriculture played in your life and what does it mean to you personally?
A: Agriculture has played a huge role in my life so far — I mean, I eat three times a day! But all jokes aside, agriculture plays a huge role in my daily life. I have livestock that must be fed twice a day and I work on a dairy farm so I would say it keeps me pretty busy. From having my animals and working with them I have been taught responsibility, sportsmanship and the reward of hard work, just to name a few. ... I believe agriculture is the wisest activity or career anyone could pick. This is because I know that each day I learn something new, I have the chance to affect so many people, from the way our food is grown to the way it is marketed. There is so much room for improvement and the options in the industry are endless.
Q: When you were first named Grange Fair queen, did you have any idea what the year ahead of you would look like?
A: Well, I got a taste of what my year ahead would look like at the week of the 2014 fair. The night I was crowned, one of the many amazing women on the fair queen committee, Virginia, gave me a detailed schedule of the places I would need to be each day. I don’t recall there being less than three places a day. I was also aided by the past queen, Maddy Kauffman, in what it might be like.
Q: What were your goals entering into the year? Was there anything you really wanted to accomplish?
A: This year it was my goal to reach not only the youth of Centre County but also the individuals and families that do not attend the Grange Fair.
Q: What have been some of the surprises along the way?
A: A surprise for me was meeting all of the other incredible county fair queens at the state pageant in Hershey. I was nervous at first knowing that it was a competition and worried about cattiness I thought might arise, but I can wholeheartedly say every girl I met at the pageant was nothing but pleasant to be around. It was amazing to meet so many girls around my age with the same passion for agriculture as I have.
Q: You wanted to make an effort to reach places that may not typically get much interaction with the Grange Fair. What were some of the things you did throughout the year to help increase the fair’s exposure?
A: This year to get our name out to the public we attended the Children’s Fair in Bellefonte, Toys for Tots at the Penn Stater and Senator Corman’s Day at the Spikes just to name a few. It was great having people wonder why I was in a crown and sash and finally walking up to them and starting up a conversation about the reason I had it on. My mom and I often gave out helpful hints to people about what to do when they come to the fair, like if you have little kids it’s better to come in the mornings on a week day, that way it isn’t so busy.
Q: You were also interested in promoting both the fair and agriculture to youth. Why was this important to you?
A: With any industry, the youth are the next generation, the ones who will be taking over and coming up with new and better ideas. I think a lot of the time we get caught up in doing something one way because it is always the way we have done it. But if you do the same thing you’ve always done you’ll always get the same thing you’ve always gotten. The youth are the ones who will break that way of thinking and take over the industry that will need to feed 9 billion people in 2050.
Q: Parades seem to walk hand in hand with your duties as Grange Fair Queen. Did that take some getting used to? Did you have a favorite?
A: The parades have been awesome! I always have a great time with my drivers, Matt Dunlap and Kirsten Silks. No matter what parade it was they were always there for me and ready to fund my eating at the carnivals. Another great thing about the parades was that the Baby Fair Queen, Tessa, was able to ride with me. And throwing candy smiling, and waving with her was the best. The parades were always filled with laughter and some really great candy.
Q: Earlier this year you got to meet Garth Brooks when he was in town. As far as perks of the job go, that’s not a bad one. What was running through your head at that moment?
A: It was great to be able to meet him and bring back the memory of the fair. It was a new kind of experience, and being able to talk to one of the legends of country music and connect was pretty incredible.
Q: You’re about to pass on your crown. Will this year’s Grange Fair be a bittersweet one for you?
A: I wouldn’t say it will be bittersweet. I will still be able to be at the most jaw-dropping fair. It has been an honor and a blessing to be the 2014 Centre County Grange Fair queen. But what makes me happy is a new girl with the same passion that I have will be able to share in some the same once-in-a-lifetime experiences that come with being the queen.
Q: What are you looking forward to participating in during this year’s fair?
A: This year at the fair I am most looking forward to showing my livestock that I spent the past few months with. After all the work I put into them, I love getting the chance to see how my animals do, and I love competing with some of my closest friends.
Q: If you could offer your successor one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: If I could offer advice to the new queen it would be go out in the county and do as much as you can while you are still queen because the time flies by.
Q: What have you taken away from this experience?
A: I have taken so much away from this year it’s unbelievable. I can’t count how many new and close friends I have. Plus I made a whole new fair family that I know will always have my back and who are always nothing but a joy to be around.
Q: What do you hope you’ve left behind?
A: As the 2014 Centre County Grange Fair queen, I hope I left behind nothing but good memories and smiles for the people I had the chance to meet and for the people I became close with.