It was a birthday wish come true for one 2006 Putnam County Fair Queen candidate Saturday night at the Community Building.
When Jordan Zaring, 18, Fillmore, heard John Parmley announce her name as this year's fair queen, she could not have been more shocked. The daughter of Jake and Debby Zaring was crowned by her cousin, 2005 Fair Queen Tabitha Clifford, amidst the chants and screams of happy birthday from audience members.
Throughout the night, the audience was impressed by the 10 candidates vying for the title, all the while laughing at the comments made by Parmley, the emcee for the night, and Fair Board president Ken Heeke.
Parmley told the audience at the beginning of the contest he made the mistake last year of announcing the time for evening gowns before the girls were ready. He said that it takes women too long to get ready, but maybe having only 10 girls will make things go a little bit quicker.
While attempting to give the candidates more time to ready themselves, Heeke said that he knew how long it takes women to get ready because he grew up with three sisters and one bathroom, so he allotted 45 minutes to talk instead of 20 minutes.
Audience members learned that Crystal Willoughby, 90, Greencastle, has been coming to the queen competition since 1958. Willoughby said that the competition is more perfect now than it was back then.
After the candidates modeled their professional wear, the audience heard Clifford's farewell speech. Clifford said that the Putnam County Fair was a way of life for her and that becoming the fair queen was a dream that seemed so far out of reach for her until last year.
"Tonight's event is something I will never forget," she said.
Clifford thanked her parents and family for all their support last year, and she appreciated all that the queen committee does for the candidates, including Raymond McCloud. While thanking Putnam County for all its support, she wanted to remind all the young girls in the audience that their dreams are never out of reach.
Toward the end of the contest, each candidate was asked an impromptu question from the judges. Mackenzie Pearson was asked "what do the four H's stand for and which one do you think best fits you." Her answer was the four H's stand for head, heart, hands and health, and she picked health because it rounds out the other three. Tara Thornburg was asked to name one difficulty that plagues today's high school and college students, in which she answered self-confidence. While Nicole Judy answered the one thing that has changed about herself was that she had become more self-confident.
After the judges had reached their decision, Pearson was crowned both Miss Congeniality and second runner-up, while Chelsey Mann was crowned first runner-up.
Pearson, 18, Bainbridge is the daughter of George and Tanya Pearson.
Mann, 17, Cloverdale, is the daughter of Rob and Malinda Mann.