"It was like, ‘no way. This isn’t real,’” the queen says.
Long live her majesty.
Kelsey Miller was chosen to be the 2023 Warren County Fair queen during the July 2 coronation ceremony at the fairgrounds.
“I was very surprised,” the recent Warrenton High School graduate said. “This was one of the same feelings when I was announced for state office. It was like, ‘no way. This isn’t real.’”
But it very much was real – just like when Miller was announced as a vice president for the Missouri State FFA earlier this year.
And Miller is no stranger to the queen competition. She was the third runner-up in the 2022 competition.
This year, wearing the tiara gives Queen Kelsey an opportunity to see more of the fair than she’s used to, despite being no stranger to the fairgrounds.
“I have shown cattle and rabbits for the past 10 years now,” Miller said. “With this I get to go outside of the livestock barn to a couple other activities and showcases.”
And there will be plenty of opportunities for her to do so.
“There will be many duties, whether it’s smiling for pictures nonstop on Thursday during the auction night, talking to people, and also passing out ribbons and just being a voice and being somebody that’s there in the livestock barn or at different events,” she said.
It’s not just that Queen Kelsey is excited about participating in more of the fair. Her majesty also wants to inspire younger girls who are just starting their time in the livestock barn.
“Something that made me want to be queen in the first place was seeing fair queens when I was younger, starting to show at 8 years old,” Miller said. “I was scared to go into the showing ring and the first time that I was about to walk in, I was so nervous and the queen came up to me and basically let me know it’s going to be OK. And from there, that sparked me. I want to be that person for that 8-year-old girl. I just want to be a voice for everyone and it’s something that I’ve always dreamed of and now I finally get to do it.”
Her majesty was a “perfect pick” for the important role, Fair Queen Committee Chair Ellie Stapleton said.
“I think she’s awesome. She is amazing,” Stapleton said, glowing about the newest Warren County royal. “She’s been in the livestock barn since she was little. She knows what she’s doing. She has the public speaking skills, she has the people skills.”
Queen Kelsey has important animal skills, too. She’s preparing to show cattle for the 10th year and is in her fifth year showing rabbits.
So when Miller is busy with her animals or otherwise unavailable, she’ll turn to her court to take over some of the queen’s responsibilities.
Her court is made up of first runner-up Allison Duncan, Miss Congeniality and second runner-up Grace Schlansker, third runner-up Autumn Bledsoe, and fourth runner-up Loren Howard. This year, all five contestants were named to the court.
“They will be helping just as much as the queen, actually,” Stapleton said. “They’re all going to help the livestock barn, hand out awards, help with kids games, tractor shows, things like that. So they’re going to be very busy.”
Stapleton said ultimately the role of the queen and her court is “like it’s a full-time job.”
“They all get scholarships, so it’s like they’re getting paid for it,” she said. “But they actually like doing it. It’s a fun week. Those four days are long and hard and they’re tired at the end of it, but they’ll be doing a little bit of everything.”
The fair officially started July 5. It continues through July 8 and features a number of events from livestock shows and auctions to tractor pulls, barrel racing, a baby show, fireworks, and much more.
“This is super fun and it’s a great way for these girls to stay involved in their community and help out other young kids that want to come down the agricultural path,” Stapleton said.
As for the queen, Miller’s duties extend beyond the fair.
“After the fair, she helps out with community events throughout the year,” Stapleton said. “And then she’ll be attending the state fair next year in August to compete for the Missouri State Fair queen, representing Warren County.”
Right now, though, Queen Kelsey is focused on this year’s fair. She also encourages all girls to compete for the role of queen in the future. She says competing helps bring the best out of each competitor.
“I hated getting dressed up when I was 8 years old. That’s why my dad always called me his boy,” Miller said. “And here I am in a fancy dress walking on stage in heels and a tiara. It’s just a life-changing moment.”
About the author: Jason Koch is the editor of The Warren County Record, and covers local news and government for the newspaper. He has won multiple awards from both the Indiana and Illinois APME and from the Illinois Press Association. He can be reached at 636-456-6397 or at email@example.com