Bruner crowned 24th fair queen|
Monday, July 30, 2012
By Wendy Lynn Brion Staff Writer
After hours of anticipation yesterday, where contestants had a written essay judged, a personal interview and appeared on stage during the afternoon for speeches and presentation, the 24th Clearfield County Fair Queen was announced.
Misti Bruner is no stranger to the queen's court having served as last year's first runner up, with Melanie Swartz, the 2011 queen. Bruner, 20, is a 2010 graduate of Clearfield Area High School and is currently attending Penn State, majoring in secondary education in biology. She is also a graduate of Clearfield County Career and Technology Center, becoming a certified cake decorator, and intends to use her skills to create pastries to sell in honor of her grandmother, Linda Marie Fenton, by donating all proceeds to cancer patients.
There were eight contestants this year. In addition to Bruner the girls included Patricia Laird, Victoria Garner, Brandye Hull, Christine Whited, Danielle Farmery, Darcie Grenier and Chelsea Folmar.
The grandstand competition began with introductions of each contestant. Then, one by one they returned to the stage to give their opening speech on "Why you should come to my fair."
Each girl talked about many aspects of the fair, including its history dating back to 1852, and the focus on and importance of agriculture to the region.
Bruner said, "The Clearfield County Fair is more than rides and games," noting the influence of the volunteer fire company and the community members who make the fair possible.
Many of the contestants talked about the variety of food available and all talked about the entertainment possibilities, including the grandstand shows, the free shows at the David H. Litz Grove Stage and the show in the Expo II plaza. The animals and agriculture building were also highlighted in the speeches as being an important component of the fair. "I could list so many things," said Garner in her speech.
The contestants changed into their evening gowns and Queen Committee Coordinator Brenda Morgan spoke briefly on the evolution of the queen contest and the committee now guiding the contestants and queen.
She said, "Once you are in the program, you are family, court or not." She noted the committee is made up of former queens, except for herself, and recalled founder Arlene Swales taking her aside about 10 years ago and saying she was going to groom Morgan to take her place some day, something she thought would never happen. Morgan said she is humbled to be a part of it.
Former queen Rachel Carr Davidson explained part of the process of becoming a queen and the point system that is used. It was also explained that the format this year is a little different than previous years because they are following the format used by the state fair queen competition.
After a special musical number the queens returned for the evening gown presentation and 2011 queen Melanie Swartz gave her goodbye speech, noting it is difficult to say farewell. She said the hard work and exhaustion over the past year was worth it and recalled many fond and funny memories, thanking everyone who helped her through the year, including her family, boyfriend, the committee, her court and others.
After Swartz's speech, the top five finalists were announced: Bruner, Whited, Folmar, Farmery and Garner. All five left the stage then and came back one by one to answer the question, "What is the biggest challenge facing agriculture and how can agriculture face that challenge?"
The girls talked about how most agriculture is performed by a small number of farming families in the state and how many people are ignorant of the work and process involved in growing food. The need to educate people and become more efficient in production were touched on as solutions.
At the end of the evening the judges tallied the votes and the results were announced in this order: second runner up, Christine Whited of Clearfield; first runner up, Chelsea Folmar of Luthersburg; and the 2012 fair queen, Misti Bruner.
When interviewed by The Progress after the contest Bruner said she felt overwhelmed and breathtaken. She said she wants to make agriculture her number one priority and to teach the community why it is important.
What is she looking forward to this week? "The Band Perry!" she said, and then added she is looking forward to bonding with her court and committee, noting she graduated from high school with Whited.
The queen and her court can be seen throughout the fairgrounds this week.