CLEARFIELD – Sarah Swope, 17, of Luthersburg was crowned Clearfield County Fair Queen on Sunday during the 32nd annual competition on the David H. Litz Grove Stage.
She was crowned by Rebecca Liddle of DuBois, who saw her reign as fair queen come to an end in the same fairgrounds that it all started in a year ago.
Swope will be joined in her court by First Runner-up Chloe Neal, 16, of DuBois and Second Runner-up Breanna McCahan, 18, of Curwensville.
“I’m just overwhelmed,” Swope said moments after beginning her reign, adding this was a true culmination of her many years spent in 4-H and at past fairs.
Each year that she’s brought market lambs to the fair, passersby commonly ask what she feeds them. She fetches a handful of feed that’s a mix of corn, oats, soy beans, etc.
“I explain how each one plays an important role of keeping my lambs happy and healthy,” Swope said during her timed speech. “… My fair is a lot like that, a mix of grains that feed a sheep.
She said agriculture and community involvement represent the corn and oats in her sheep feed, and without them, the Clearfield County Fair would just be another amusement park.
She said farmers and 4-H members work year-around to bring their animals, crops, etc., with hopes of winning a blue ribbon and of sharing their stories with other local families.
Swope admitted her fair is more than agriculture. “My sheep feed contains more than corn and oats; it also includes sweet molasses and roasted soy beans that make my lambs enjoy it all the more.”
She said her fair is made special by being one of 15 fairs that still hold harness racing, giving fairgoers a chance to cheer on their favorite horse and witness part of the state’s past.
“There’s plenty for families to enjoy from the iconic Ferris wheel, pig races and pony rides to the circus shows. Kid’s Day brings even more family fun,” Swope said.
“Each piece makes up my fair and strengthens my community. Every morning and night, my lambs fill their stomachs with my sheep feed; my fair will fill you with memories – every year.”
Rachel Carr Davidson, fair queen committee member, gave a brief overview of the fair queen competition before the results were given.
The county competition closely resembles the Pennsylvania State Fair Competition, at which Swope will hopefully represent the Clearfield County Fair in January.
According to Davidson, contestants had already completed a couple parts of the competition, including a personal essay on what the fair means to their community, and a personal interview.
On-stage, contestants competed in a timed three- to five-minute speech on why people should come to their fair and an evening gown/personal introduction.
Due to having a small group of contestants this year, Davidson explained a top five wasn’t being selected, which is why each young woman answered the same impromptu question.
The impromptu question was fairs across Pennsylvania have been faced with the difficult decision to cancel as a safety precaution with the country being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without the opportunity of a “traditional fair week,” how do you educate others about agriculture and the fair industry, if you’re crowned fair queen?”
Swope said she would offer agricultural lessons via Zoom video conferencing to show people around her farm, as well as visit local schools to teach kids where their food comes from.
“There’s no better way to prepare a fair queen than to put them through the trenches [of a pandemic],” Davidson said. “… They will have to expect the unexpected, adapt to changes, etc.
“There are going to be times where things are organized, ready to go and things will change and come up. This is going to be a learning process for these girls, and they’ll do a wonderful job.”