The crowning of the Lorain County Junior Fair king and queen was a bit different this year — only two girls signed up for the competition.
Jessica Urig of Midview and Callee Aviles of Black River each had a 50-50 chance of being crowned, and after long moments of breath-holding suspense, the honor went to Urig.
Aviles watched with a smile as her friend was topped with a tiara.
The queen was awarded a $1,000 scholarship and will represent the Lorain County Junior Fair and the Junior Fair board.
A three-year Junior Fair board member, Urig used her acceptance speech to tell the crowd about how her 13 years in 4-H helped her overcome shyness.
“4-H has shaped me into who I am today,” she said. “It’s made me love being a mentor to younger members, it’s made me actually enjoy and be comfortable with public speaking, even though everyone secretly hates it, and it’s taught me the type of leader I want to be — a leader that can help others while directing them and getting the job done.”
Her earliest memory of 4-H is making pillows when she was four. A fair judge laughed at the sewing job she did, but loved the colors she chose. She said it made her feel accomplished.
The fair has always been a vacation and a second home to Urig and her family, she said.
She is already enrolled at Kent State University, where she will study public relations and fashion merchandising. She is also a four-time varsity letter recipient from Midview High School in track, basketball, soccer, and softball.
Crowned as a runner-up queen, Aviles is a 10-year 4-H member and a two-year Junior Fair board member. She has shown lambs for seven years, chickens for six, and steer for one. She is also involved in Black River’s FFA chapter and will continue her agricultural education this fall at the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster.
Aviles said she’s excited to travel alongside Urig to other fairs around the state and to represent the county.
There were no candidates for Junior Fair king. “It’s disappointing, but it is what it is,” Urig said, shrugging her shoulders.
The ceremony was accompanied by renditions of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Feel It Still” by Portugal the Man by the county’s 4-H Band.
Craig Adams of WEOL posthumously presented the 2018 Clair Hill Award to the booming voice behind years of Junior Fair auctions, Tom Newell, who died in 2017. The honor was received by his family in his place.
Newell spent much of his life living on a farm in Carlisle Township. As an only child, his parents wanted him to meet more kids, so he joined 4-H.
Shortly after marrying his high school sweetheart, he gained a state license to begin a career in auctioneering. For 50 years, he donated his services to sell Junior Fair livestock.
Building 9 at the fair now houses a memorial to Newell and is a sale ring for the junior fair livestock.
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.