Nine girls will be competing for Hamilton County Fair Queen tomorrow, but the process itself begins much earlier than that.
Fair Queen Committee Member Kim Schaa said that the committee tries to start organizing for the upcoming competition in May.
This includes getting information out to the girls, as well as lining up three out-of-county judges for the event.
-Daily Freeman-Journal file photo
The 2011 Hamilton County Fair Queen is Kalli Richardson. She will crown this year’s queen at the fair coronation on Wednesday.
"We limit the contest to the first 16 girls that apply," she said. "One year, we ended up with 21 entries, which was a bit unmanageable."
The contest is held at Asbury United Methodist Church in Webster City. Girls arrive at the church early in the morning to draw a number for the order they must go in during the day.
"Each girl then goes into a personal interview by themselves and talks with the panel," Schaa continued. "Afterwards, they change into their evening gown."
Mothers of the contestants are invited to join in the festivities later in the morning. The girls model for the crowd and sit down for a brunch.
"The girls sit with the panel and are still in the judging process," she said. "A group discussion takes place afterwards, and the panel sees how they participate."
At the end of the day, judges ask the same, final question to each of the girls individually.
"They must answer the question on the fly," Schaa said. "Once they have answered, the contestant is taken out of the room.
Schaa said that she has been on the committee since the early 1990s.
"It's fun to meet the girls from all over the county," she said. "This year, two of our contestants are from Hardin County."
She said that the Hamilton County contest goes by Iowa State Fair rules. Girls need to be a resident of the county or adjacent county, with most of their activities taking place in Hamilton County. The two girls go to South Hamilton.
The panel changes from year to year. A couple of years ago, the Iowa State Fair Queen participated in the judging process.
"We try to keep one judge on that has judged in Hamilton County before," Schaa said. "So they know the process we go through."
She said that being involved in the committee is fun and rewarding, and Schaa looks forward to the process every year.
"I still keep in touch with a lot of them today," Schaa said. "I have a lot of good memories, lots of fun and I enjoy doing it."
The 2012 Hamilton County Fair Queen will be crowned at the annual coronation ceremony, which starts at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the Hamilton County Fairgrounds Grandstand.