A queen is more than a crown, sash and smile.
She is someone who understands the importance of her crown, sash and a friendly smile for everyone she meets.
And even if the Centre County Grange Fair is often represented by its queen, the newest member of royalty feels the fair is much bigger than one person. It is, she said in a speech Wednesday, like a quilt that everyone has carefully stitched together since its inception in 1874.
Emma Spackman was swarmed by cameras when she was crowned the 142nd annual Centre County Grange Encampment and Fair queen. Family, friends and fellow contestants followed, each wanting their own picture with her.
“Some of my earliest memories are at the fair, and this is a new one,” Spackman said. “They’re all special to me.”
Her friend Emily Allegar, the 2014 queen, persuaded her to run for the crown.
“The (12 other) girls here were all fantastic, and I’m honestly shocked I actually won,” she said. “A lot of them really deserved it more.”
They also provided her with inspiration before her speech.
One by one, each contestant gave a two-minute address about the Grange Fair in front of hundreds of fairgoers.
First runner-up Heather Wasson discussed how the fair has stood the test of time, remaining the only tenting fair in the nation with families in more than 1,000 tents and 1,500 RVs. Second runner-up Megan Royer said newcomers shouldn’t hesitate to ask why the fair is a tradition, because everyone will give a different answer with the same meaning — that it’s something special to them.
Other contestants talked about how important agriculture is to the fair. And, if agriculture isn’t your thing, how there are thousands of exhibits, hundreds of food vendors, rides and events to keep you busy.
“It would take a lifetime to explain what the fair means to me and the rest of us,” Spackman said. “My pap always tells me I could talk for hours about the fair. I think each of us pulled from something a little different about the fair. We kind of worked really well together as a team.”
Spackman grew up on Roundtop Farms, an eighth-generation farm just north of Port Matilda.
Her family began attending the fair to market their lamb but didn’t expect that it would lead to Emma’s coronation.
“We are very proud of Emma,” her father, Jeff Spackman, said. “She’s a very nice young lady, and she’s done a fantastic job preparing for this moment. She’s been a wonderful joy to watch from start to finish do this, and we’re very pleased she’s been crowned the queen.”
She also got advice from 2015 queen Alissa Woomer — to attend as many events as possible, take a lot of pictures and to meet her at the dairy barns if she needs any help.
“I can’t imagine all of the things I’m going learn and everything I’m going to experience now,” Spackman said. “It’s going to be a great way for me to promote agriculture, and that’s something I’ve grown up with. I’m really excited for it.”