Former state Secretary of Agriculture Sam Hayes and 2019 Clearfield County Fair Queen Rebecca Liddle pose with the lamb Hayes donated to be sold on Aug. 8 at the livestock sale. Basil the lamb will be auctioned along with other animal projects that were slated to be part of the 160th edition of the Clearfield County Fair that was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Proceeds from the sale are divided between the Clearfield County Queens for a Cause and the 4-H/FFA scholarship fund.

When Rebecca Liddle accepted her crown as the 2019 Clearfield County Fair Queen, she was anticipating a busy year in service to the fair.

Liddle, a student at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, where she studies speech and language pathology, told The Progress, she decided to compete in 2017, “I was friends with the 2016 Queen Rachel Duke and seeing her as queen really showed me how important the role is for the community. I’ve always loved the Clearfield County Fair and community service, so I decided to run for Queen, even though I had little experience in agriculture. I was chosen as the first runner-up for two years prior to being chosen as queen.”

Liddle said she was very excited to take on the role as the fair’s ambassador. “I have loved every aspect of my reign. I enjoyed going out in the community and seeing all of the active members participating in activities they loved. That made my trips all the more special. Some of the highlights for me were in September, I attended a suicide prevention walk in DuBois. This is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart, so much that I created my own shirts to sell and have my own team to participate in the walk. My shirts ended up raising approximately $1,000 for local charities. A close second for me was definitely the Clearfield County Conservation District’s Conservation Celebration at Curwensville Lake Recreation Area. I got to hold all sorts of super cool animals like baby pigs, caterpillars, scorpions and a tarantula. The event was definitely outside of my comfort zone but was fun.”

While Liddle was attending local events on behalf of the fair, she was also preparing to compete in the Pennsylvania Fair Queen Contest in January. The contest is held annually at the joint convention of the Pennsylvania Association of County Fairs and the Pennsylvania State Showmen’s Association.

“I was very nervous to go in the first place and compete against 60 girls, but it felt more like a party than a contest,” Liddle said. “While I was there, I ended up becoming really good friends with nearly all the girls in the state. They voted me Miss Congeniality, which was such an honor. I got to experience many new things, meet many people, and gain many new connections across the state.”

The COVID-19 pandemic altered her reign, halting her appearances and in-person fundraising efforts for Clearfield County Queens for a Cause that supports Children’s Miracle Network and other local charities, Liddle said. “COVID hurt my reign quite a bit. After the state competition, I had no other events until mid-June. That was very sad for me being as I had many fun events planned for the community as well as looking forward to attending many events that the fair queen normally attends. My biggest heartbreak was that I was unable to ride in my hometown parade, DuBois Community Days, as queen. That was a moment I was really looking forward to, but it hasn’t stopped me from trying to be the best queen I can be for the community. I was able to hold online events and do a lot more with virtual ambassadorship than a queen is normally able to do. The Osceola Mills July 4 parade was the only parade I was in in 2020, but the residents and visitors definitely made me feel special.”

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“I’m so honored people have actively been reaching out to me and searching for ways for me to get involved before my reign is through. It’s nice to have a community that has your back just as much as you have theirs,” she added.

Although she understood the Clearfield County Fair Board’s decision to cancel the 160th edition of the fair, she reported feeling sad.

“When I heard the news that the fair had been canceled, I was devastated,” Liddle said. “Not for myself. I was devastated for the 4- and FFA members who had been working tirelessly on their animals projects. I was devastated for the food vendors who will suffer a loss to their small business. I was devastated for the performers who were unable to blow us away with their talents. I was devastated for the community to lose an event that brings us together in a way that no other event can.”

Liddle reported she was delighted the fair board opted to proceed with the 2020 queen contest. “When I was told the board and the committee were going to continue with the fair queen contest, I was worried that there would be no interested girls. I am proud to say that there are five wonderful young women who are running for the 2020 title. This group of girls is very special- they know coming into this year that it will be different from previous years. They know they will be missing some of the queen’s favorite events. However, they saw a need in the community. Now more than ever we need strong, young females to represent Clearfield County. Any of these young women have the potential to make this year so much more than anyone could have predicted. These young women have all have worked just as hard as any queen, and will continue to represent the Clearfield County Fair in the highest capacity.”

Liddle plans to participate in the Livestock Sale on Aug. 8 in the livestock arena at the Clearfield Driving Park. “I am raising a lamb I named Basil. Each year the fair queen is donated a lamb from the former state Secretary of Agriculture Sam Hayes. The queen, raises and shows that lamb at the Clearfield County Fair and then the lamb is sold at the livestock auction the Saturday of the fair. Proceeds from the sale are divided between the Children’s Miracle Network and the 4H/FFA Scholarship.”

Liddle’s lamb, Basil, has become a local celebrity. She said, “I walk Basil twice every day in the area of Christ the King Manor retirement home. The residents there often sit by their windows and wait for Basil to come by, or they sit out on the patio and wait for her. She’s really brought a lot of smiles to them. It’s been especially nice because although the residents aren’t able to have visitors because of the pandemic, they have something to look forward to. I’m so grateful for the lamb program because it really allows the queen to connect to her fair. She actively gets to participate in the showing and selling of a livestock animal.”