On a night when many of the past Washington County Fair Queens were on hand to celebrate the honor bestowed upon them in a previous year, the 25th queen was announced and crowned Sunday at the Community Center.
One could tell she was royalty just from a look at her beaming smile.
Leah Marek is the 2019 Washington County Fair Queen.
Judges were Hailey Swan, 2017 Iowa Stae Fair Queen and Davis County Fair Queen, Kelly Swan, the queen’s mother and Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw, 2018 Miss Iowa America. they all met individually with each contestant for one-on-one interviews before the pageant.
“(This is) really exciting,” Marek said. “I have been dreaming of this since I was a really little girl.”
Hayley Sweeting was the first runner-up. Cierra Miller was second runner-up. Madison Fishback won Miss Congeniality. other contestants were Anna Duwa, Leah Evans and Savannah Hall.
“I am so excited to have a lot of fun at the Iowa State Fair,” Marek said.
Master of ceremonies Kristen Hovda, Miss Teen Iowa USA, entertained a packed house with the song It Had To Be You.
All the seniors who were in a 4-H club came on stage and shared some of their best experiences in the varoius county clubs.
Last year’s queen, Katie Palmer, who just finished her freshman year at Central College in Pella, shared a little about what a fair queen does beside represent her county at the Iowa State Fair.
“I corralled frogs, sprayed whipped cream on bubble gum for the bubble gum chewing contest, passed out ribbons, rode in monster trucks, posed for pictures, took care of my sheep and emceed the cutie pie contest.”
She also participates in parades, did numerous interviews, and worked with “amazing sponsors.”
“I always looked up to the Washington County Fair Queens,” Marek said. “I am really excited to be that role model this year.”
Palmer remarked that many times in parades, she hears a parent single her out.
“My heart swells with honor and gratitude that for a whole year I got to be that figure,” Palmer said.
Marek upheld family tradition, following in the footsteps of two older sisters, Lexi Marek in 2012 and Makenzi Marek in 2017, who were also WC queens.
It seemd fitting, she won on a night that invited every past winner to the pageant.
“I am carrying on a family tradition, I guess,” Leah Marek said. “That makes it super exciting and even more fun. I think my sisters will be really happy for me. They would be excited about any place that I finished, though. But it’s going to be fun to relate to them on the same level.”
One of those levels will be the opportunities presented at the Iowa state Fair. Two of the past winners were first runner-up at the state fair, but no Washington County Queen has won.
Leah Marek has not set her sights on that title, but wants to befriend all those who might be the winner.
“I have heard stories from my sisters about how they met the most amazing girls,” she said. “I’m excited to have that chance too.”