Seventeen young women from across Putnam County will vie for the title of Miss Putnam County on July 12 at the Putnam County 4-H Fair Queen Contest.
The contest will be held in the community building at the Putnam County 4-H Fairgrounds. Doors will open at 6:15 p.m., and the contest will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $3 per person.
Here's a look at the contestants who will be competing for the crown.
Amber, 18, of Roachdale is the daughter of Ed and Pat Beams.
She graduated from North Putnam High School this past spring, and plans to attend Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, in the fall, where she will major in dental hygiene and minor in music.
During high school, Amber participated in marching, concert and pep bands. She was a thespian and was a member of the Key Club, Students Against Drunk Driving and the prom committee.
She was a Cougar Mentor and a representative for her senior class. She has been a member of 4-H for 10 years, and belongs to the Bainbridge Saddle Club. She attends New Providence Baptist Church.
"I entered this contest because it is a good way to end my tenth year (in 4-H) and to meet new people," Amber said.
Amber described herself as "caring, friendly, loyal, responsible and musically inclined."
Her hobbies are varied and include showing horses and pygmy goats, photography, drawing, scrapbooking, playing the flute and piccolo and spending time with family and friends.
Amber's advice to younger people would be to "always believe in yourself."
"If you have a dream, then set goals, and maybe one day you will reach it," she said.
"But remember that the road will be rough with many stops along the way. People might try to pull you down, but if you continue to believe your dream will come true."
The event that has had the greatest impact on Amber's life was her father suffering a heart attack last fall.
"Ever since that morning, I have become much closer to him," Amber said. "I feel that I appreciate everything that he has done for me even more. Plus I try every day to let him know how much I love him."
Amber cited her parents as the people she admired most.
"Despite all of the activities and long nights I've put them through, they continue to support me," she said.
Amber said her mother has provided food for band camp for the past four years, as well as making breakfast for the band's early competitions.
She would also "make sure all the uniforms were clean and well-organized, and somehow always made time to fix my hair so it would stay up in my hat before a performance," she said.
Her father, Amber said, "always made sure he was off work so he could come help with the band trailer, but most importantly to see me march," she said.
"I admire both of them equally for all of the hard work and loving support they have already put into my life," she said. "I couldn't ask for any greater parents."
The daughter of Glen and Pat Birt, Bailey, 18, is a 2008 graduate of South Putnam High School.
She resides in Greencastle and has a 14-year-old sister, Brittany.
She plans to attend Saint Mary-of-the Woods College in the fall, where she will enroll in the master's program to become a registered dietician.
While in high school, Bailey was on the cross country, basketball and softball teams.
She was a member of the art club, National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society and HOSA.
She has her own business, Bailey's Swim Babies, for which she is a private swim instructor. She is a member of New Providence Baptist Church, where she is involved in Bible study for teen girls.
She is also a leader for Rock City Children's Ministry, which is for children in grades kindergarten through sixth.
"I decided to enter the (queen) contest to end 10 great years of 4-H with a new experience and to have fun," she said.
Bailey considers herself creative, fun, athletic, terrified of roller coasters and caring. In her spare time, she enjoys running, sculpting, painting, camping, shopping and spending time with her family and friends.
Bailey's advice to those younger than herself would be to beware of bad influences.
"Choose your friends wisely," she said. "Peer pressure is so powerful; make sure your friends are a positive influence."
Bailey was greatly affected by a mission trip to Brooklyn, N.Y.
"During our stay, we fed the homeless and formed relationships with the people who visited the soup kitchen each day," she said. "We also led a Bible school and a block party for the children in the community. My team performed maintenance on the church that housed us for the week. Completing these projects really changed my life by showing me how blessed I am to have such a great home and community to live in. While on this service project, my goal was to help and teach others, but in the end, they taught me more than I could ever teach them."
Bailey considers her parents her role models.
"I admire both of my parents for their hard work and dedication they have in raising me and my sister," she said "We have always been top priority in their busy lives."
Kayla, 19, of Greencastle is a sophomore nursing student at Vincennes University.
She is a 2007 graduate of Greencastle High School. She is the daughter of Roy and Dana Bumgardner and has a younger sister, Karly.
While at GHS, Kayla was on the student council and was a class officer. She was a member of the French Club, National Honor Society, Health Occupation Students of America, Pep Club, and G Club. She was also a member of the cheerleading squad.
Currently, Kayla is a 4-H leader for the Greencastle No-Names.
She is a member of Abundant Life Baptist Church, Putnam County Girl's Softball League, Putnam County 4-H and the National Tamworth Type Association.
Kayla plans to graduate from Vincennes and become a registered nurse.
She would like to work in a labor and delivery unit.
Kayla thought about entering the queen contest for a while.
"It's something I've always wanted to do, and I don't like to live my life with regrets in it," she said.
Kayla described herself as outgoing, fun to be around, talkative, a good friend, trustworthy and honest. Her hobbies are making jewelry, fishing, camping and playing softball.
Kayla's philosophy is "Live your life to its fullest and with no regrets ... life is too short, so enjoy it while it lasts."
She said her baptism was the event that most greatly impacted her life.
"It has given me a new outlook on life and has taught me to appreciate each day I'm given," she said.
Kayla's sister has been an inspiration to her.
"She overcame the criticism from being a girl and playing football, and played her heart out each time," she said. "Which makes her stronger than me, both physically and mentally."
Megan, 18, lives in Reelsville. She is the daughter of Tony and Becky Criss and has a younger brother, Nathan.
Megan is a 2008 South Putnam High School graduate.
She will attend University of Southern Indiana in the fall, where she plans to study elementary education.
"I hope to get married, have a few kids kids and then return to college to receive my principal's degree," she said.
During high school, Megan was in the National Honor Society, FCA, Art, Spanish and Yearbook Clubs. She was on the prom planning committee and played tennis.
"I decided to enter the (queen) contest because I realized it would be a great opportunity to meet new friends while having fun," she said. "I am a friendly, outgoing, talkative girl that loves to have fun and laugh."
In her spare time, Megan enjoys playing tennis, spending time with family and friends, shopping, scrapbooking and "telling silly jokes."
Her advice to younger people is to believe in themselves.
"Always be confident in yourself and never give up, no matter what comes your way," she said.
Megan's faith is a large part of her life.
"The greatest event that impacted my life was when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at Acquire the Fire," she said.
Megan chose Pam Miller, a church friend, as the person she admired the most.
"She has accomplished everything I wish to achieve, such as graduating from college, obtaining a great job and starting a family," she said. "Even though she has been through great struggles, she is always positive and always has faith in the Lord."
Caitlyn, 20, resides in Fillmore. She is the daughter of Tom and Kelli Croan and has three younger siblings, Colton, Samantha and Hunter.
Caitlyn graduated from South Putnam High School in 2007 and is now a sophomore at Franklin College.
She plans to go on to law school and become a lawyer.
During high school, Caitlyn was involved in cross country, track, National Honor Society and 4-H. She was an Eagle Ambassador and a Hoosier Girls' State delegate.
At college, she is a member of the cross country and track teams. She is a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority.
Caitlyn always wanted to enter the queen contest, but waited until she was done with 4-H "so I could fully enjoy this experience and not take away from my projects," she said. "I also wanted to meet new people."
Caitlyn said she is shy at first. She described herself as "laid-back; someone who loves to laugh."
Her hobbies include running and being with family and friends.
Caitlyn's advice to those younger than her is "Live in the moment and trust God."
Her faith is a big part of who Caitlyn is, and she said the event that has had the biggest impact on her life thus far was "accepting Jesus Christ as my Savior."
"My relationship with Him affects every decision I make and helps me through the hard times," she said.
Caitlyn admires her parents the most of anyone she knows.
"My mom is my biggest fan, never missing a meet," she said. "My dad is my hero, always saving the day."
Carmen, 18, is the daughter of Brad and Cindy Cross. She lives in Greencastle, and graduated from Greencastle High School this past spring.
She has one older brother, Vance. She will attend Ball State University in the fall. She plans to eventually transfer to Indiana University and major in fashion merchandising and design.
In high school, Carmen was a member of the volleyball and softball teams. She is a 10-year 4-H member and has been a volunteer for Putnam County Teen Court.
Carmen entered the queen contest in hopes that she could follow in the footsteps of other queens she admired.
"I have admired and respected the positive role model they provide the youth of Putnam County," she said. "I would love the chance to be a part of that."
Carmen said she is a "very determined, organized and caring individual" who loves animals and children.
"In fact, when asked in third grade to write down my dream job, I chose being a babysitter," she said. "Over the years, I have been privileged to babysit for several wonderful families and have enjoyed every second of it."
Carmen's hobbies are sewing, shopping and spending time with family and friends.
"This will be my 10th year in 4-H," she said. "During that time I have explored the areas of sewing, photography, scrapbooking and showing dairy cows."
The person Carmen admires the most is her uncle, Terry Gobert, who lost a young daughter to cancer and has battled ailments of his own.
"Today, Terry is a happy father of five beautiful kids," she said. "He also juggles the job of head coach for the Jasper High School baseball team -- he has led them to six straight championships."
Carmen is a big believer in positive thinking.
"It has been my experience that things don't always turn out the way you expect them to, and sometimes thing go in a different direction than you had planned," she said. "I've had to learn to keep an open mind and try to see the positive side of every situation. Although it isn't always easy to find a positive side, once you do, then half the battle is over."
Eighteen-year-old Ashley graduated from North Putnam High School this past spring. She is the daughter of Richard and Sherry Doyle, and lives in Greencastle.
Ashley has two older siblings, Aaron and Morgan, and a younger sibling, Logan. She plans on going to Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis this fall to study biology and participate in the Air Force ROTC program.
"After graduating, I will be an officer in the U.S. Air Force and be on my way to becoming a medical scientist," she said.
During high school, Ashley was on the varsity volleyball and softball teams. She was a member of National Honor Society, student council, Key Club, FCCLA, Students Against Drunk Driving, Spanish Club, High School Heroes and the Speech Team, as well as being a freshman mentor.
She is a 10-year 4-H'er, and serves as a softball umpire for the Bainbridge Youth Softball League.
Ashley has many reasons for being in the queen contest.
"Of course I have always wanted to participate in the contest since my first year in 4-H," she said. "I also thought it would be a great opportunity to get to know some of the girls and learn a little more about Putnam County.
"I also wanted to do the contest because my older sister Morgan, who is a U.S. Marine, was sent to boot camp before she could complete her 10th year in 4-H," Ashley continued. "She wanted to participate in the contest so badly, but was unable to do so. I am partly doing the contest for her."
Ashley considers herself multi-faceted.
"I am an independent, very determined person," she said. "I have very strong morals and values and a good sense of self-discipline. I am a hard worker, but I am also very fun and spontaneous."
Ashley's life philosophy is "the only one who can let someone bring you down is you."
Ashley is very family-oriented.
"My brother, sister and brother-in-law are in the military," she said. "One is in Florida, one is in Japan and one is in Iraq. My family and I see them once or twice a year, but I know that what they are doing is a great service to our nation. I am so proud to be their sister that I have decided to join the Air Force and work alongside them to benefit the United States."
Ashley said her close tie to her family is a blessing.
"We are so tight-knit compared to many families in today's society," she said. "We have dinner around the table and can talk about anything."
The person Ashley admires most is her "Mammaw," Helen Knapp.
"She is 76 years old and she still mows her own yard, plants and weeds her own garden," she said. "I love her so much, and I admire her spunk and willingness to get things done."
Kaylee, 19, graduated from Greencastle High School this past spring. She is the daughter of Debi and Kivan Hutcheson and Doug Hoppel, and resides in Reelsville.
She has two older siblings, Cory and Luke, and a younger sibling, Jamin.
Kaylee plans to attend Murray State University and become an equine physical therapist.
During high school, she was on the track and soccer teams. She has been active in 4-H Horse and Pony, Future Farmers of America, FCA and TSLA.
A friend prodded Kaylee into entering the queen contest.
"Lindsey Roberts convinced me that it would be fun," she said.
Kaylee described herself as "very outgoing and hard-headed."
"I like doing anything fun," she said.
In her spare time, Kaylee enjoys horseback riding, rodeo and "anything to do with horses."
Her advice to those younger than her is "learn from your mistakes."
Kaylee said the most influential happening in her life so far has been "seeing how God has really played a role in my life, especially recently."
"That has certainly made me who I am," she said.
The person Kaylee admires the most is her mother.
"She never hesitates to go the extra mile for anyone," she said.
Cheryl, 18, is the daughter of Greg and Julie Mitchel. She lives in Coatesville and is a 2008 North Putnam High School graduate. She has two younger brothers, Steven and Luke.
Cheryl plans to attend Ball State University. She will be studying elementary education and hopes to come back to teach in Putnam County.
During high school, Cheryl was on the softball and basketball teams.
She was involved with the Teen Student Leadership Academy, Student Learning Advisory Board and High School Heroes. She was also a senior class representative.
Cheryl is a member of the National Technical Honor Society and 4-H. She volunteers for a battered women and children's shelter.
"I entered the (queen) contest to meet new people," she said. "You make connections when you get involved in programs, and those connections can help you later in life."
Cheryl described herself as happy, ambitious and hard working. She enjoys camping and boating in her spare time.
Cheryl's advice to those younger than her is to "be yourself."
"No one can do a better job at it than you," she said. "Plus, you'll impress more people being who you are than trying to be someone you're not."
Cheryl can't remember one specific event that significantly affected her life.
"I don't recall one event that has made me who I am today," she said. "There have been many events and people in my life who have influenced me to become the person I am."
Cheryl most admires a teacher she had in elementary school.
"I admired my first grade teacher, Mrs. Accavello," she said. "She was a teacher who made learning fun and interesting. When I become a teacher, I am hoping to pass this fun learning style of teaching to my future class."