As the 2019 Defiance County Fair queen prepares to be crowned Saturday, outgoing queen Katie Davis is hoping to leave a lasting legacy.
“As fair queen, my goal was to promote our fair, bring more people to it and educate the public about 4-H and the junior fair,” Davis said.
To achieve that goal, some research was required.
The 2018 Fairview High School graduate already knew about FFA and 4-H, having participated in them for many years. She wanted to see how other fairs promoted them, as well as the fair itself. It was time to do some traveling. By mid-July, Davis had traveled to more than 20 county fairs, as well as the Ohio Fair Managers Association’s queen contest.
“I met a lot of county fair queens from across the state and gathered ideas from their areas,” Davis said.
Her experiences led Davis to work with the Defiance County OSU Extension Office to create a “Queens Making Queens” program in April. The program was open to anyone thinking of applying to the junior fair court or as king/queen. Participants were able to ask questions to those who already have served on the court.
“Fair queens came out and talked to queen hopefuls about what to they could do to make the experience and fair better,” she said. “I hope to continue that program. It had a good turnout.”
Another event she helped organize to benefit junior fair members was a pig clinic at the Defiance County Fairgrounds in July.
“(The clinic) was to help younger members know what all goes into raising swine from feeding and water to clipping hooves,” Davis said. She even brought her own pig to show junior fair youths how to show a pig and how to care for it.
Teresa Johnson of the Defiance County OSU Extension praised Davis for all her work.
“Katie has gone above and beyond as our junior fair queen and has worked hard to implement educational programs for our junior fair members,” Johnson said. “She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our program, and we look forward to keeping her involved with our 4-H and junior fair program.”
Davis’ ideas for the fair aren’t just events held before it.
She also has invited fair royalty from around the region to come and tour the fair as a way to promote it on Aug. 19.
“Another idea we’re doing is we asked 4-H members in the county to send pictures from last year’s fair or of this summer feeding, watering and caring for their animals,” Davis said. “We will make posters to put in each barn and then make a display to let people know how 4-H kids interact with their animals year round. We want them to see we put in a lot of hard work (way before the fair).”
Davis said she also hopes either this year or in the future to enact an “Animal & Me” program that would allow youth and adults with developmental disabilities to interact with animals. This year the senior fair board will be doing an educational petting zoo and tour with students from the Good Samaritan School and Katelyn’s Cottage.
“That would also help youth realize that not everyone is as lucky as they are to raise animals for 4-H and (it would) put a positive light on youth as we do care about our community (as a whole),” she said.
Even though she is handing over her crown this year, Davis said she plans on continuing her work.
“I plan on staying involved with our fair and changing our fair for the better,” she said. “My biggest goal is involving our 4-H members as much as I can. The fair is for 4-H youth to show off their work.”