State Fair is over but queen says she is still in shockAwestruck Kelsey Smith returns to school, normalcy
By MEGAN COOPER
Mt. Pleasant News
Disbelief. Shock. Awe. Excitement.
All explain how Kelsey Smith feels at this moment in her life. Everything has changed for her; so many new opportunities have risen because of one title, Iowa State Fair Queen.
Smith, trying to catch up on school and get back into the swing of sports, still says being named Iowa State Fair Queen hasn’t quite “sunk in” yet. “I will be sitting in class and think to myself, ‘I’m the 2013 Iowa State Fair Queen,’ it’s unreal, I’m still in shock,” she said, smiling brightly.
“I have to wear my crown and sash every time my name is used in the paper — there are all these rules,” Smith said. Moments like these let her know that her life has changed, but she wants everyone to know, “I’m still the same girl, I’m still me.”
When Smith was announced Iowa State Fair Queen, she was in absolute awe. Bill Riley announced to the crowd that the winner was from southeast Iowa and Smith thought to herself, “that could be me.” When her name was announced, she said her hands went to her mouth and she started crying — tears of joy, of course.
Smith then talked to past fair queens, wanting to know what life was going to be like now, and they told her, “so many doors will open now and new opportunities will arise.” She was happy about that answer, as she said she’s not quite sure what she wants to do in college right now, but she is taking an online course in entrepreneurship. She’s hoping that a door will open that will help her decide what she wants to do.
Her parents — Jason and Debbie — own a business in Mt. Pleasant, Smith Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, which they started, so she has interest in business management and attending Iowa State University.
“Every time I talk about it, I get all happy about it. I’m looking forward to the lifelong changes,” Smith said. She then talks about how she wasn’t sure she even wanted to run in the fair queen contest at the Henry Count Fair. “I wasn’t sure it was me. But my mom encouraged me and said it would be good for me. So did my 4-H leader and I decided to do it. I can’t imagine what would I be doing now if I hadn’t. I’m glad I did.”
“I watch the rerun on IPTV, and I’m just in awe, I stop there and think about it. It was overwhelming and people were there to interview me within 20 minutes of winning,” Smith said.
Along with the Iowa State Fair Queen title, Smith is also active in volleyball, marching band where she is a drum major, student council, National Honor Society and softball. She has an obligation to be at Old Threshers this week and is also helping to prepare for homecoming, which is coming up soon. In a nutshell, she has become one busy girl. But does she let this get to her? No. “I love being busy. I love meeting new people, it’s fun,” she says and looks forward to all the new opportunities to come.
Being fair queen is a huge job. Smith receives phone calls about county fairs, being in parades, local contests and other things that happen throughout the year. “My summer is starting to book up already,” she said and laughs. “There is not a set amount of activities you have to go to, but you want to represent your county the best you can. The record was 31 counties. No one wanted to tell me that, because they knew I would try to beat it, but it will be hard around softball. I could go to practice in the morning and head to a fair in the afternoon, I love meeting people and going around to all the fairs.”
“I really want to thank Jessie Hutchinson, she was the fair queen coordinator. She was amazing. Paris Schneff, my chaperone, was 2011 fair queen and she was fun and did so much for me. I want to thank my family, they have been super supportive. They made time for me; owning a business, they came when they could. They are excited to take me around to fairs next summer. My friends were supportive as well. As soon as I got to my phone after being crowned I had 75 text messages. It just shows how much support goes through this town.
Also, the fair board members, I don’t know what I would have done without them. They gave me a place to stay and made sure every single second I was okay,” Smith said in expressing sincere gratitude for everyone who has been there for her every step of the way. She was really impressed with how receptive the town was, and wants to thank everyone.
Once Smith was crowned fair queen, she was issued a chaperone, and an escort to walk around with her. “When I would walk into the building where I was staying, there would be a police officer in there, 24 hours a day. It was weird, but I can understand why they do it, but it was definitely different,” Smith said. She said that it was an adjustment to make, but was grateful for such great people to help out.
So, how does one become fair queen? What exactly must one do in order to even be in the running?
Smith says, “Be yourself and don’t worry about the outcome. You got out there and did something new.” That was the best advice she could give to anyone running next year. She, and the other girls, also had to do volunteer work, go through individual interviews and group interviews.
At the state level, Smith, along with all the other girls, had a group interview, individual interview, one-minute rapid fire interviews, talk on stage, fill out a questionnaire and they had workshops during the day. It was a lot of work, but she said that remaining yourself is what you need to do.
“Each and every one of those other girls deserved to be there,” Smith said as she reminisced about her experience. She again expresses her shock about winning, “I just can’t believe it,” she said.
Before all the life changing events, Smith was in 4-H for six years, she did working exhibits and Share the Fun programs. The Iowa State Fair had been a part of her life for a long time; she would go with her family every year. She used to do all the big things, like Little Hands on the Farm, but now she understands all the little things like how much work it really is to make the fair work. She really appreciates all the work they have done and continue to do.
Smith was able to experience a lot while she was at the state fair. Her favorite activity was the Grape Stomp, she had never heard of it before and she ended up doing it four times. She said that it was a lot of fun. Smith also got to hand out awards and ribbons. “Handing out the awards like the showmanship award is like winning the fair queen, it’s a big deal and I was glad to be a part of it,” she said. “I even got to make my own corndog and wood fire pizza.”
Even though she was busy during the day doing meet and greets, interviews, touring the grounds and handing out awards, she continued the hectic schedule by attending the concerts. She got to meet Jerrod Niemann, and she tells of her experience. “He pulled me up on stage, actually carried me, in a dress and sang a song to me. I can’t wait to see him at Old Threshers and see if he remembers me after two weeks. It was great doing something I never would have gotten to do. It’s hard to explain to people what I’m feeling. Unbelievable.”
Smith then talks about how life has changed being back home now, she said “It’s weird being in the spotlight, people joke around, just like today I tripped over a book and the teacher was like, ‘I wish I had my camera,’ it’s definitely different.”
Smith also mentioned that when she was at the state fair, there were cameras everywhere; she was even told that she had to itch her nose, to go behind a tree. She then laughs at that and she says, “Being State Fair queen, it’s like, whoa.”
Being fair queen is a lifelong obligation. She goes back next year of course, then in 2015 she will go back to be the 2015 queen’s chaperone. After that, she can go back as she wishes and she will always be welcomed.
The best part about being fair queen is, she said, “meeting new people. I get to meet thousands of people. They are so excited for me and they congratulate me. Also, representing the county and it’s just my favorite part. Of course coming back to the Iowa State Fair Queen and knowing that I was the 2013 Iowa State Fair Queen.”
Smith represents herself well and she is a very together young woman.
As she winds down about her experience, she leaves this as her final thought, “the girls at state were wonderful. Each and every one of them deserved to be there. They need to know that. I shouldn’t’ get all the recognition. Each one of them should too. They put themselves out there and I want each and every one of them to know that they represented their county well and will this year as well.”