Strutting down a runway lined with blue lights at the Cole County Extension Office, 16-year-old Eileen Shafer showed off a lacy pink dress for audience members during a fashion competition while her mother, Marie, watched on from the crowd with a smile on her face.
Cole County 4-H hosted several competitions Saturday ahead of the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair, including two fashion competitions and fair royalty interviews, as well as several shooting competitions, including archery, muzzle loading, shotgun and air pistol sports matches.
PHOTO GALLERY: Cole County 4-H fair activitiesRead more
The fashion revue competition is for 4-H members ages 8-18 and featured categories like clothes made and clothes purchased. The fashion fun contest was for members 5-18 years old and had several categories such as T-shirt decorating, accessories or an "anything goes" option.
There were 25 entries from eight children total between the two competitions. Six of those entries were from Eileen Shafer.
After meeting the qualifications for the fashion revue Saturday, Eileen will go on to compete in the state competition in Columbia later this year. She has been to the state fashion revue contest multiple times since she first started competing about seven years ago.
Eileen said she enjoys sewing and practicing her public speaking skills through these competitions. They also give her an outlet to explore different fashion techniques, she added.
"I've been interested in fashion about as far back as I can remember, even though I'm probably one of the few teenage girls who likes fashion and doesn't follow the trends," she said. "I tend to follow my own styles and always liked timeless, cute, girly pieces."
The competition builds confidence and life skills, said Marie Shafer, who also organized the two fashion competitions.
"It's a good opportunity because being up in front of people, public speaking is one of the most feared things," she said. "Even if they're not talking, they're still getting up in front of people, which to me, is not too far from speaking in front of people. They're learning those skills and getting used to being in front of others, and it gets them ready for when they do have to speak in front of others."
The fashion revue contest is becoming a forgotten competition, though, since many overlook this part of 4-H, Marie Shafer said.
"I think a lot of people don't realize that these opportunities are available because so many people hear 4-H and they automatically think cows, pigs, chickens," she said. "They think the (agriculture) side, and yes, 4-H is ag, but that's not all facets of 4-H."
Following the fashion revue and fashion fun contest style show, the fair royalty princess and queen contestants took the stage, answering questions about their time in 4-H and Future Farms of America.
Adeline Thessen, from Blair Oaks High School, said she thought running for Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair queen was a way to step out of her comfort zone.
"I'm normally in a cattle barn, but I figured I would step out of my box a little bit and get all dolled up and try something new," she said.
Fellow queen candidate Sydney Nivens, who also attended Blair Oaks High School, agreed the contest forced them to try something new. Even though it can be hard work, Nivens added, she would encourage others to pursue the royalty contest.
"You just have to jump off and go for it full force," she advised. "Once you do it and how you feel afterwards, it's so rewarding, knowing you did something kind of out of your comfort zone."
The princess and queen will be crowned on July 30 during the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair, which runs July 30 through Aug. 4.