Rain pitter-pattered on the tin roof of the 4-H and FFA Youth Livestock show barn as a handful of girls made their way into the show ring Sunday evening for the 4-H Royalty Pageant coronation ceremony.
Eileen Shafer was one of three young women running for Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County queen.
The crowning of 4-H royalty is a popular tradition within the organization, where young women and men compete in the pageant-like event, consisting of personal and stage interviews. Older participants, running for king and queen, must submit an essay about the year's given topic.
This year's topic was, from a young adult's perspective, what is the biggest hurdle facing agriculture over the next five years?
Shafer said she addressed the lack of proper agricultural education in her essay.
"How is a voter able to make a good decision and be able to support the farming community, nationwide and worldwide, if they don't know what something is?" Shafer asked hypothetically.
Meagan Forck was crowned this year's queen.
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Shafer said she had plenty of activities to enjoy this year, as fair royalty was just one of the many she was involved in.
Shafer, a 2020 graduate of St. Benedict Homeschool and member of the Clover Crusaders 4-H Club for 10 years, said she participated in canning, gardening, clowning, sewing and a few other projects this year.
Shafer is the only 4-H member in Cole County involved in the clowning project. In clowning, members learn how to apply clown makeup, create their own clown face, make a costume and perform as a clown, according to the University of Missouri Extension 4-H webpage.
Not many 4-H members are involved in the project at a state level, Shafer said. A few years ago, she co-founded Missouri's statewide clowning workshop with her mom, Marie Shafer. In the past, the day-long workshop has been held at the Cole County Extension Center.
"I would not be the person I am today without (clowning)," Shafer said. "Learning how to be a clown — the makeup, costumes, props, the performance are the most obvious, but the less obvious side of it is public speaking. It's given me a chance to improve my public speaking skills, go out and have fun."
Outside of 4-H, Shafer has been a harpist for seven years and plans to pursue a clinical musician certification with the harp this fall through an online program, Harp for Healing.
"A certified clinical musician is like a massage therapist," she said. "You get a nice shoulder massage, and when you're done you're relaxed and in a good mood, ready to take on the rest of the day."
Shafer said a certified clinical musician is different from a music therapist, in which therapists provide a deeper, therapeutic treatment, while clinical musicians provide a more calming experience.
"There are many other things I enjoy doing, but I felt like being a certified clinical musician with the harp was my calling," she said. "Plus, who doesn't love a little bit of live harp music?"
An array of Shafer's 4-H projects, including canned carrots, a hand-drawn illustration and a poster outlining the creation of harp strings, can be viewed throughout the week in the 4-H exhibition hall at the Jefferson City Cole County Jaycees Fair.
Enjoyed this feature? Check out these other Faces of the Fair: Toni Haselhorst, Taylor Riley, Madisyn Suess, Garrett Holtgrewe and Jessica Koenigsfeld. The News Tribune will feature a new person every day during the Jefferson City Jaycees Cole County Fair, so watch for more faces!
This story was edited at 2:35 p.m. July 28, 2020, to correct the spelling of Meagan Forck's name.