An Inside Look at County Fair Queen Contests

Jul 01, 2022

Ellie Horn
Digital Communications Specialist

For many youth, the county fair is the highlight of their summer. They spend countless hours getting their projects and livestock ready for showing. However, several young ladies prepare in a different way: they compete in their county fair's queen contest! To be crowned fair queen is an honor, but the experience of competing is an accomplishment in itself.

2021 Story County Fair Queen contestant, Ellie Moser of Nevada, can vouch for that. Coming from a cattle background, Ellie's family attends the fair every year. She and her friends grew up watching the contest before competing together last year. “It was so much fun. We couldn’t believe it was our turn,” said Ellie. The Story County contest consisted of an individual interview, discussion panel, and a formal dinner. Outside the contest, Ellie’s favorite part of the fair is seeing new families show cattle for the first time. “Showing has gotten pretty competitive, but watching kids show and truly have fun is what it’s all about.” Ellie is thankful for her fair experiences, saying, “Fairs keep ag moving and advocate for younger generations.”

Hailey Heishman of Malcom had a different experience when she was crowned the 2021 Poweshiek County Fair Queen. Hailey has always been involved with showing Boer goats, participating in 4-H, and caring for the people in her county. Running for queen was a natural next step. “I know how much hard work goes into the projects,” said Hailey. “I wanted to represent that at the Iowa State Fair.” The Poweshiek contest consisted of individual interviews, on stage questions, and a speech for the audience. Hailey’s favorite part of the fair was handing out ribbons. But during her time as queen, Hailey recognized her title was an important one. “Little girls look up to you when you’re wearing the crown,” she observed. “It shows people that women can have a place in ag.”

Lauren Zaabel of Newton has yet to experience the contest excitement. She will compete to be this year’s Jasper County Fair Queen. For her, the contest will consist of an individual interview, group interview and a presentation for the audience. Having been very involved with 4-H, FFA and showing cattle, Lauren would like the opportunity to give back as queen. “The people of Jasper County have given me my passion for ag, and I want to help others find where their passion lies,” she said. Lauren's favorite part of the fair is the environment. “You’re busy 24/7,” said Lauren. “There are so many activities to do and people to talk to.”

All queen contestants represent women in agriculture well, but these three women have special connections to Key Cooperative. Ellie is currently a Feed Sales Intern at Key’s Gilbert location and both Hailey and Lauren were 2022 Key Cooperative Community Scholarship recipients. All three are attending Iowa State University. In the fall, Ellie will be a sophomore studying Ag Communications, while Hailey and Lauren will be freshman and plan to study Animal Science and Agricultural Business, respectively.

And how will Key Cooperative participate in the fair fun this summer? We're excited to say we'll be serving meals to our 4-H & FFA youth and their families at the Central Iowa, Southern Iowa, Poweshiek County, Tama County, Jasper County, Polk County, and Story County fairs. Stop by and see us!

Ellie Moser, Hailey Heishman, and Lauren Zaabel (pictured above from left to right) are proud to represent women in ag. Ellie and Hailey competed in their county fair queen contests in 2021, while Lauren will compete this summer. 

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