Raegan Bowling crowned 2018 Putnam County Fair Queen
As the 2018 Putnam County Fair Queen, Raegan Bowling will certainly be spending a lot of the next two weeks at the fairgrounds.
But please forgive Bowling if, at least once or twice, her mind and heart drift away from her beloved Putnam County Fair to a young cousin a couple of counties away.
Shortly after the 19-year-old was crowned Saturday evening at the Putnam County Fairgrounds Community Building, a tearful little girl was ushered backstage to see the new queen.
Before posing for a picture with the little girl, her young cousin Ila Stokes, Bowling had an important question for her.
“When do you take pigs to the fair?” Bowling, a 10-year veteran of the Putnam County swine barn, asked. “Tell Mom and Dad to let me know and I’ll come help.”
That was just the question that had been on young Ila’s mind. While she was happy for her cousin’s accomplishments, she also realized it sets up a potential conflict, apparently asking her parents, “When is Raegan’s fair? Because I really want her to come see me show.”
While a conflict may be unavoidable — the Boone County swine show is the same day as the Putnam County beef show — it provided an early example of what Bowling anticipates during fair week.
“I think I’m looking forward to helping the youth and really trying to be a role model for the little girls,” Bowling said.
Of course, Bowling won’t be doing it alone. She’s joined in her court by First Runner-Up Mackenzie Taylor, Second Runner-Up Emma Holsapple, Third Runner-Up Jessica Hays and Miss Congeniality Skylar Clifford.
Like most young women who become queen, Bowling said she spent her younger days admiring the women who wore the crown before her.
“When I was younger, I always looked up to the queen but I really didn’t know what it entailed,” Bowling said. “The older I got, the more I thought, ‘That’s really something I’d like to look into.’ So I decided to do it this year.”
What she did know was the hard work that surrounded showing livestock at the fair. Besides 10 years in the swine barn, she also showed beef cattle for six years, not to mention two years each of cakes and photography.
It’s hard to recall a year that Bowling, the daughter of Jim Bowling and Michele Long, wasn’t in contention (or winning) Grand Champion Barrow, Grand Champion Gilt or possibly both.
That’s why she is glad to have waited until her 4-H commitments were over to seek the fair queen crown.
“I was so involved with my livestock,” Bowling said. “I didn’t want to add the stress and have to rely on someone else.”
Looking back on 2017, Bowling is glad didn’t muddy the waters of her final year of 4-H.
“I’m really glad I waited because I feel like I really got to enjoy my 10th year,” she said.
Now a student at the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing, the 2016 North Putnam graduate is in a different chapter of her life. She’s now a former 4-H’er with two years of college under her belt. The results suggest that the summer of 2018 was the perfect time for her to run for fair queen.
“I worked hard for it — we all did this summer,” Bowling said. “I feel like I made some new best friends this summer. It was such a competitive group, it could’ve been anyone.”
First Runner-Up Mackenzie Taylor is a home-school graduate and current Ivy Tech student. She is the daughter of Deewayne Taylor.
Second Runner-Up Emma Holsapple is a North Putnam graduate who will start at Indiana State in the fall. She is the daughter of Brien and Nancy Holsapple.
Third Runner-Up Jessica Hays is a North Putnam graduate and current Ivy Tech student. She is the daughter of John and Jenny Hays.
Miss Congeniality Skylar Clifford is also a North Putnam graduate who is bound for Purdue after completing the demanding ASAP program at Ivy Tech.
Clifford was especially honored by the Miss Congeniality title.
“I always try to make everyone feel welcome and have a good time,” she said. “It’s very humbling to be nominated by my peers.”
The daughter of Daryn and Meredith Clifford and Jennifer and Joe Gibbs, Skylar was also this year’s recipient of the People’s Choice Award.
People’s Choice is based upon donations to the non-profit of choice for each of the 10 young ladies in the contest. Of the more than $2,100 brought in by the effort overall, Clifford raised more than $1,200 for the Riley Children’s Foundation.
A family connection makes the Indianapolis children’s hospital close to her heart.
“My cousin had heart surgery there. Riley did so much for my family during that time,” Clifford said. “It was just a way to give a donation back to a cause that means so much to me.”