Ladies and gentlemen, the moment we’ve all been waiting for has arrived. The 2022 Washington Town and Country Fair has crowned its queen! Let’s take a moment to reflect on the wonderful summer our queen contestants have experienced, all leading up to this day.
Their adventures began way back in May, taking their headshots at Fricke Studio and attending group Orientation. As the month of June unfolded, the contestants had various events on their plate to kickstart the summer! They practiced yoga, learned self-defense, practiced professionalism, and unleashed their creative side in a painting night. July also presented itself with fun bonding events such as Empac & Orange Leaf, a wonderful day in Washington, interview practice at the Bank of Washington, and stage rehearsals. Before we knew it, Fair week was upon us. To kick it all off, the contestants participated in the annual Walk/Run and rode through the Fair Parade in style. This wrapped up an incredible summer full of fun, learning, and newfound friendships… all of which is made possible year after year by the queen committee, sponsors, the lovely contestants, and many others.
Now for the part you’ve all been waiting for, the coronation! Unfortunately, the weather did not hold out for the contest, due to a severe thunderstorm that forced the grounds to close. :( However, the show must go on! In response, the contest was relocated to the Borgia High School Theatre and streamed online for viewers at home. The contestants looked stunning as they took the stage one by one. After 2021 Fair Queen Abigail Tobben shared her thoughts with the crowd, the judges had made their final decision and the results were in. She then proceeded to crown this year’s court. Thank you to all of our outstanding queen contestants for an amazing summer. The 2022 Washington Town & Country Fair Queen Court is as follows. Congratulations ladies!
Queen: Maria Hellebusch, Sponsored by the Bank of Washington
First Runner Up: Grace Bryson, Sponsored by Washington Hearing Center
Second Runner Up: Lindsey Molitor, Sponsored by Town & Country Nursery
Miss Congeniality: Miranda Yarbrough, Sponsored by Janie Schriewer & Assoc. Re/Max Results
That’s a wrap on the 2022 Fair Queen Blog! Thank you all for keeping up with the queens and showing my writing lots of love each week. Being able to follow alongside these amazing ladies and share their experiences this summer has been incredible.
Emma Duncan :)
The time has come for our last pre-contest event with our queens! WOW has this summer flown by. It seems like just yesterday our lovely contestants were doing yoga and practicing self-defense! :) Prior to taking the stage for rehearsal on Wednesday evening, the girls enjoyed a pizza dinner followed by some sweet treats. After wrapping up dinner, it was time to vote for Miss Congeniality, do a final ticket sale report, and then head out to the stage. On stage, the girls were greeted by musicians, the emcee, microphones, and risers to make this night feel like the real deal. The 2021 queen court was also present to help with the stage walk and give the girls some feedback. The queen committee ensured the contestants that the long night would be worth it, and by Wednesday they would be ready for anything! With this reassurance, the rehearsal began.
The girls took turns first introducing themselves and then strutting down the catwalk as the emcee announced a bit more about their hobbies and involvements. After each contestant took her turn, they found their place on the risers as the next girl began to walk. This was when I decided to pull the girls who had already walked backstage for a fun “behind the scenes” video. If you follow the Fair Facebook or TikTok you may have already seen it… but if not, give us a follow @washmofair! I won’t give too much else away about rehearsal, but I will say that the queens are more than ready for Wednesday evening! All that remains now are their interviews with the judges.
These lovely ladies have worked hard all summer to prepare for this event, so I know they would be more than thrilled to see you there! It’s a can’t miss on Wednesday, August 3rd at the Pepsi Main Stage, as long as our weather cooperates. :)
Until next time, (For the last time!)
A 6:45 AM alarm clock has nothing on these ladies! An early Saturday wake up call, the queens came ready and eager to start the morning off right with some exercise at the Run/Walk event. After the 10K and 5K runners hit the route, the queen committee and contestants jumped in with the 5K walkers. I decided to join in on the fun, walking with the queens for the event. Let me tell you, 3.1 miles has never gone by faster! The most enthusiastic participants of the morning, you could hear these girls talking, laughing, and cheering on all the other contestants from just about anywhere on the route. :) I also had the opportunity to get to know some of the girls better, and to hear some of their thoughts as their incredible queen contestant experience comes to a close.
“I’m just counting down the days!” one of the girls told me. “Excited would be an understatement!”
“It’s just gone by way too fast,” said another one of the queens, “I’m not ready for this experience to be over!”
After we had finished the 5K walk, the girls grabbed some snacks and refreshments before lending a hand with the Kids’ Fun Run. It was such a great way to spend the morning and kick off the crazy, amazing week ahead!
It was all smiles, sashes, and stoked queens for Fair Parade Sunday! Our contestants arrived in style, just about an hour before the parade began so that they could put posters on their convertibles and situate themselves in the parade lineup. The girls had gotten together the day prior to make their posters for the parade, which turned out beautifully! After the pre-parade prep was complete, the girls waited for the clock to strike four, signaling for the parade to begin.
Soon enough it was go-time, and the 2022 Washington Town & Country Fair Parade was in full swing! I positioned myself along the route so I could capture the queens as they passed by and after various floats, cars, firetrucks, and people paraded by, I could see the convertibles coming my way. :) Smiling and waving as they rode by in style, all the queens looked AMAZING! The crowd thought so too, loudly cheering each time a pair of queens passed by.
A beautiful weekend for the walk/run and parade, the queen contestants are now closer than ever to contest day. These ladies have been preparing all summer, so you will not want to miss the big finale on Wednesday evening at 8 pm on the Main Stage! Stay tuned for a behind the scenes of their final stage rehearsal taking place this Monday, as we look forward to their big day.
Until next time,
Our last queen contestant event before the fair fun has come and gone! On Thursday, the girls gathered in the Bank of Washington’s conference space for their mock interviews. Serving as judges for the day were professionals from the Washington area. The morning began around 9 o’clock as the contestants filed in dressed professionally, resumes in hand, eager to see what the day had in store. The room quickly filled with nervous yet excited chatter amongst the girls, who could be heard practicing interview questions and asking last minute questions. After everyone had arrived and conversations subsided, the panel of professionals introduced themselves. Shortly after the professionals were split into groups of three and sent off to their interview rooms with their prepared questions. After everything was settled, it was time to send the first group of girls in to meet with the judges.
Each interview was conducted in 15 minutes, allowing for a bit more time in preparation for the 7 minute interviews the day of the contest. After each interview wrapped up, the judges were then to give the girls both constructive and positive feedback about how they did, giving them an idea of how to better prepare for the day of the contest. As the first group of girls was sent off, the queen committee tried to ease any nerves by encouraging the girls to be themselves and find confidence. Fifteen minutes later the first group emerged back with smiling faces and looks of relief! After conquering their mock interviews, they assured the remaining contestants that it was nothing to fret about and not to be nervous. In hearing this, you could feel the rest of the room relax as the remaining contestants waited for their turns.
After one of the contestants had finished her interview, I pulled her aside to ask how it went and gain some insight!
“I did practice a few times with my family members and some of the other queen contestants,” she replied when I asked if she had felt prepared going into the practice interview. “However, I was still a bit nervous. But the judges were just looking at me nicely and not in a condescending way which made me feel more relaxed,” she said, adding that pretending those were the real judges helped tremendously. “I definitely think I’ll still be a little nervous for the big day, but I’ve found that in practicing today I was able to relax and compose myself before answering their questions… so I hope that I can do the same during the real interview!”
They say that practice makes perfect, so it was awesome that the girls were able to get a feel for what the real deal may look like. Join us in catching up with the queens during the last few remaining blogs, featuring the Run/Walk, Parade, Stage Rehearsals, and the big finale Queen Contest. I hope you all have enjoyed reading these blogs as much as I have enjoyed writing them and spending time with our wonderful queen contestants this summer! They are all such amazing women, and I cannot wait to see what these remaining weeks have in store for them. :)
Until next time,
Last week, our queen contestants experienced a day full of fun and learning in downtown Washington! The annual “day in Washington,” began at the Historical Society, where we learned all about the town’s rich history. The queens and I were greeted by Katie Dieckhaus, Executive Director of the Washington Historical Society, who was so kind to give us a tour of the building. She also shared her knowledge of the town, explaining how the city came to be. As the tour moved along, Katie spotlighted different displays and shared some fun facts with us. Since this blog is all about taking you along with me for the full queen experience, let me share a bit of what we learned!
Did you know…
The queens and I had the best time soaking up everything Katie shared with us. Without a doubt, her passion for her job and love of the community of Washington made her the perfect guide for today's tour! After answering all the girls’ questions, she allowed time for everyone to leisurely browse the museum before we headed off to the next destination. If you ever get the chance to check out the Washington Historical Society Museum, take it! They had some of the neatest displays, books, and information regarding the town’s history. It was the perfect way to kick off our day in Washington.
Up next on our agenda was a combination of cookie decorating and selfie scavenger hunting! The queens split themselves into two groups for this, so that while one of the groups was cookie decorating at the Chamber office, the others could hit the town for the scavenger hunt. I hung back with the first group of cookie decorators and watched as they were given a lesson on how to ice the perfect cookie by SaraKay Hannel of Fairytale Cookie Co. The girls were given two different bags of icing and two plain round cookies to make their creation, which SaraKay told them was going to be a smiley face! :)
“I believe that a smile is the best accessory that you can wear,” SaraKay told the girls. “Especially as you walk across the stage during the contest!”
Keeping this advice in mind as they worked with their materials, the contestants produced some creative cookie creations! After their delicious masterpieces were done, it was time for the groups to swap places. Thanking SaraKay for her time and awesome tutorial, the queens grabbed their scavenger hunt lists and hit the town! On the list were riddles and hints that intended to lead the queens to different landmarks and businesses in the downtown Washington area. Each team would have to find the places they believed that the clues were supposed to take them and capture a group selfie. For example, one of the riddles read, “Your grandma collects mugs from places she visits. Find a shop that sells mugs that say Washington, MO on them,” which led the groups to I.B. Nuts & Fruit Too. With thirteen total riddles to complete, the girls had an absolute blast, as you can see from some of their photos!
The eventful, educational day in Washington concluded and the contestants met back in the Chamber building for a Q&A session regarding the Contest. With the fair creeping closer, the enthusiasm in the air is REAL! Join us later this week for day of “Professional Development” number two, our last event before stage rehearsals and fair fun.
Until next time,
On Thursday, July 7th the queens met for an afternoon of Empac and Orange Leaf! Unfortunately, I was unable to personally attend this event, however I was still able to get the inside scoop thanks to a few of the candidates who were willing to share their experiences with me. :) A fun twist, the queens were joined by the 2021 fair queen court for this adventure.
The afternoon began at the Empac group location in Washington, where the girls were given a tour of the facility by Empac's plant manager, John Walsh. For those unfamiliar with Empac, the organization has been providing custom manufacturing, assembly and packaging solutions to partners in the St. Louis and Franklin County Region since 1967. They currently employ hundreds of those impacted with disabilities, providing a range of employment opportunities within the surrounding communities.
"We are a company that can compete with any other packaging company in the country," Walsh remarked. "The CEOs in charge of companies that purchase from us usually don't even know that we are a handicapped facility."
The girls absolutely loved the tour, which allowed them to see how different goods are made and packaged. "We teach them all kinds of common skills," Walsh said, "like how to use nail guns and how to read tape measures and blueprints. But the biggest thing is just how to work well with others." One of the queens who shared her experience with me mentioned that her favorite part of the afternoon was personally talking with the staff. "It was really intriguing to hear their stories and ask them about their jobs," she told me.
Christa Mohesky, Director of Operations, also met the girls on their tour and gave them more details about Empac. As well as providing work for their employees, she explained that they also give a sense of community. "Our folks love to come to work, it's a huge part of their social life," she said. "They have friends here and some even have boyfriends and girlfriends here!" The queens giggled and then proceeded to ask both Christa and John any remaining questions they had about their work.
As their Empac experience ended, the girls posed for a picture outside with their tour guides to capture the moment. If you look closely at the picture, you can see that the queens received their sashes - which we are SO excited about! Following Empac, it just so happened to be “sweet treat o’clock” … so the queen clan went to Orange Leaf to debrief over froyo! As the girls visited and discussed their day together, they also started to look forward to their next event. Spoiler alert! It’s an eventful day in Washington that you won’t want to miss. :)
Until next time,
Janet Rudd, owner and artist of Creative Touch Paint and Design, helped the queens tap into their inner artist by hosting a painting night at her studio on Wednesday, June 29th. As the girls filed in and seated themselves, Janet welcomed them and introduced herself and her space. The girls and I then got a complete tour of the beautiful studio, which eventually led us into the main painting space where a large, mysterious structure was revealed. At that point Janet explained to the girls that instead of making their own paintings this year, they would instead be working together to create a fun, fair-themed, photo opportunity on the giant, canvas-like structure. The girls’ faces lit up and the room immediately filled with excited chatter!
No time was wasted as the brainstorming process began immediately, followed by sketching and doodling. Now I won't give too much away, but basically each girl chose her own section of the mural and decorated it as she wished, using full creative freedom! Aware that not everyone possesses Picasso-like paintbrush skills, Janet assured all the queens that, “If you’re hardworking, have good character, and collaborate, you can do anything!” This proved to be true as the girls worked seamlessly together and their mural started to come together.
After around two hours of busy pencils, paintbrushes flying everywhere, and paint filling the canvas, their project was nearly done. They worked long and hard, making sure that their creation was picture perfect, and were pleased with the results! Alongside her artistic expertise, Janet also left each of the girls with their very own studio paintbrush, a great keepsake to remember the evening.
Their final masterpiece will be displayed in the fair parade on Sunday, July 31st. But if you can’t make it out to the parade, don’t sweat it. The photo op created by Janet and the queens will be on display ALL week long at the fairgrounds!
Until next time,
Day number one of Professional Development was all things fun and formal! Our group was so fortunate to have four of the area's best as guest speakers, each sharing their areas of expertise. This was a fantastic opportunity for the queens (and me!) to gain some insight into many different fields of professionalism, applicable even far beyond the queen contest. To begin the morning, the girls divided themselves into groups in preparation to visit each speaker. This was when I decided to jump in with a group to serve as a “fly on the wall,” learning about what each speaker had to say to the girls. And, believe me, these sessions did not disappoint!
Professional Presence with Gretchen Pettet
“The way you present yourself should reflect how you intend to present yourself,” Gretchen told the girls, as they joined her for a presentation on professional presence. From hygiene, hair, and makeup to clothing fit, condition, and style… her advice was nothing but the best when it comes to representing yourself in a professional setting. Gretchen also stressed the importance of first impressions, body language, and attitude. Her best piece of advice, “You may have everything else right, but if your attitude is off it’s over. Your attitude is what determines your direction.” She then concluded her session by urging the girls to, no matter what, be real!
Interview Skills with Julie Hazel
Let's be honest... Nobody enjoys the frantic feeling that comes with being asked, "So, tell me a little bit about yourself?" You know, whenever you suddenly forget who you are, everything you’ve done, and any major accomplishments worth noting? Well, fortunately for our next session, we visited with Julie Hazel, who taught us how to answer these kinds of questions throughout the interviewing process and nail an elevator pitch! Julie took the girls through some interview preparation skills and the interview process itself, ultimately emphasizing that the secret to success is to simply practice! “The more times you put yourself in uncomfortable situations, the more comfortable you will get,” she ensured the queens. As a final touch, Julie shared her simple yet effective recipe for success when it comes to elevator pitches, aka answering the infamous "tell me about yourself" question.
Building a Professional Resume with Dr. Rachael Franssen
When it comes to drafting the perfect resume, it’s important to sell yourself for who you are and what you can do. And, in this special case, why each girl feels they are the perfect fit for the 2022 Wash Mo Fair Queen! Dr. Franssen, SDOW Assistant Superintendent, led our third workshop of the day, which was packed with resume tips and tactics that will be useful throughout the queens’ lives! She covered what all to include in a professional resume, such as contact information, education, professional experience, and so on. She also touched on soft vs. hard skills, resume length, and answered any of the girls’ burning questions. In closing, she reminded the girls to “always make sure that what you are putting forward is professional.” A great closing reminder, especially applicable to resume building, this session will most definitely be of use to the girls as they craft their resumes for the contest and in all other endeavors.
Art of a “Thank You” Note with Tina Eckelkamp
A simple "thank you" in the form of a handwritten note gives a sense of appreciation, enhances relationships, and can open innumerable doors. In our final session, Tina Eckelkamp taught us all about this, emphasizing the dos and don'ts of thank you notes. From events to interviews to weddings, a handwritten proper thank you card is always necessary! She also discussed the art of personalizing thank you notes, by including specific details while expressing gratitude. Tina's session ended with each queen receiving a tiny stationery set as a parting gift as well as a handout summarizing what was covered throughout the session. A kind gesture, I even received one myself, which will come in handy and be put to great use! :)
After each girl got the opportunity to listen in on all four amazing sessions there were sandwiches and treats to enjoy from Joe’s Bakery, a great, refreshing way to conclude the fun yet professional day. A huge thank you to all those who worked on this event and for our amazing speakers who shared their expertise! Stay tuned for the next queen adventure, where the girls will be channeling their inner Picasso by working together to create a masterpiece!
Until next time,
When it comes to protecting yourself, it’s better to have the power and not need it than to need it and not have it! Our Wash Mo Fair queens learned all about this and SO much more during last week’s queen adventure, a self-defense class led by black belt Laura Schaefer of ATA Martial Arts. :)
On Wednesday evening, the queens hit the ATA dojo eager and ready to learn some new self-defense skills! To kick off the session, the girls gathered around and listened intently as Laura introduced herself, covered some important ground rules, and laid out the key components of mastering successful self-defense.
“In the matter of defending yourself, it’s all about attitude,” Laura told the girls. “Knowing how to assert yourself is a major aspect in watching out for your own safety.” This bit of advice was then worked into the first drill of the evening, an attitude and voice drill where each girl was to shout at their partner, “DON’T touch me!” It was priceless to see the girls' looks and laughs when they were instructed to do so! However, it's safe to say that once the ice was broken and shouting filled the air, they were incredibly intimidating. :)
Alongside attitude, Laura also highlighted that using your comfort force is of significant importance as they prepared for the more “physical” drills. Which basically means that you should apply force based on the situation and whether the force against you is threatening in a deadly or non-deadly way. Knowing this, the girls performed a series of elbow jabs and knee strikes to put their abilities to the test. Using punching bags and shields rather than a partner of course!
As the hour-long session drew to a close after several drills, demonstrations, and scenarios... instructor Laura left the girls with a few final words of wisdom. In her words, "Simply being aware can save your life." This great piece of advice then sparked conversations about looking confident, using the buddy system, walking in well-lit areas, and which handy self-defense tools you should carry!
I had such a blast getting to watch the queens try something new, while also taking in a few tips and tricks myself! Several pictures and action shots taken by Jeanne Miller Wood highlight the girls’ performances and all the fun below. Visit her website jmillerwood.com to view the full self-defense gallery. You can also check out Laura Schaefer with ATA Martial Arts at atawashmo.com/ !
Until next time! – Where we get a little more professional …
I had the BEST time joining our fair queens Tuesday evening as they threw on some workout clothes, grabbed their yoga mats, and headed down to the Missouri River front for a relaxing evening of yoga together. These queens learned from instructor Elaine Blackmur of Mindful Movement that yoga isn’t simply about saying “Om” and touching your toes, but rather bringing consciousness to each movement in every moment!
In getting to know to the girls, I’ve learned that they all tend to remain quite busy over the summer by working jobs and keeping up with other activities. Amidst this everyday hustle and bustle, things can get exhausting, and it can be difficult to simply slow down. However, Elaine invited the girls to do exactly that, through a forty-five-minute Vinyasa Flow Yoga session! This style of yoga is characterized by stringing together a variety of postures so that movement from one to another is seamless. Using breath to movement connection practice, the intention is to slow down and simply be present by moving towards what is “sacred” or most important to us.
The girls rolled out their mats and formed a semi-circle around Elaine to kick-off the evening. After doing some quick introductions, the session began. Only a few girls raised their hands when asked if they had ever practiced yoga before, so to make sure no one felt intimidated, Elaine stressed that although it’s great to celebrate your abilities, it’s even more important to honor your limits. Nevertheless, regardless of whether the girl's yoga skills were those of a graceful swan or of a baby giraffe trying to use its legs for the first time, the good energy was beyond contagious! ;) As the girls inhaled, exhaled, and moved their way through the session, you could see them all start to relax and get into it. This was when I regretted not bringing my mat to join in on the fun!
The sounds of the river flowing and the birds chirping as the sun set made for a perfect, peaceful yoga experience. Well, despite the train that roared past and some loud cars occasionally thumping by! As the queens left, stretched and unstressed, it seemed to me that riverfront yoga was a GREAT success.
“Overall, I found yoga to be super fun and relaxing!” said one of the queens. “It was good to just kind of slow down for a bit and bond with the other girls in such a unique way.”
If you’re looking for a way to relax and yoga is something that you have yet to experience, take it from the queens, YOGAtta try it! :)
Until next time!