Return of the royalty, as princesses are crowned

EUGENE, Mo. — The tradition of fair royalty is making a comeback at this year’s Jefferson City Jaycees/Cole County Fair, after about six years absent.

“Our main focus at this point is to incorporate their agriculture backgrounds in their qualifications,” said pageant co-chairman Sheila Suess.

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From left are Victoria Forck, fair queen; Mariah Forck, fair princess; and Eileen Shafer, 4-H princess, at the 2014 Cole County 4-H/FFA/Jaycees Fair Royalty Pageant.

The 2014 Cole County 4-H/FFA/Jaycees Fair Royalty Pageant was held Friday at Eugene High School with eight girls vying for three crowns.

Victoria Forck, a student at Helias Catholic High School and a member of the Nichols Career Center FFA and the Jefferson City 4-H clubs, was named Fair Queen.

Mariah Forck, a student at Blair Oaks High School and also a member of the Nichols Career Center FFA and the Jefferson City 4-H clubs, was named Fair Princess.

And Eileen Shafer, who is home-schooled in Jefferson City and a member of the Clover Crusaders 4-H Club, was named 4-H Princess.

Volunteers with area FFA and 4-H clubs revived the royalty in partnership with the Jaycees.

They reviewed other counties’ royalty process to create a new pageant process for girls and boys ages 8-21 who are members of an FFA or 4-H club in Cole County.

No boys signed up this year, but organizers say they likely will try again next year. They also hope to add sponsors and a scholarship next year, too.

“We’re excited to see the program grow and get more involvement next year,” said Sonya Forck, pageant co-chairman.

This year’s candidates were judged with 50 percent coming from their stage presence for the public portion, 10 percent from their application and prepared essay, and 40 percent from personal interviews held Friday morning.

“It’s been amazing working with these girls all day,” Forck said. “They have very unique personalities.”

Victoria Forck said she used her job interview skills cultivated through the FFA contests this past school year.

Both she and her cousin Mariah Forck sought out their fathers’ advice when preparing for their stage portion and essay, both related to agriculture.

For Shafer, she said she loves to get dressed up, to talk to adults and to be on stage.

Organizers chose to hold the pageant in advance of the July 28-Aug. 2 Jaycees Cole County Fair so the royalty may be more involved with the events and awards.

“I’m looking forward to presenting awards and making people’s day,” Mariah Forck said.

Victoria Forck agreed the experience will be great. However, she said she now is anticipating the state fair pageant in August.

Shafer said she hopes with her title she can spread the word about 4-H’s diversity.

The royalty also have expectations throughout the year assisting with other 4-H activities.

“This is not just about a crown,” Sonya Forck said. “We want them to focus on public speaking and leadership, too.”

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