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story.lead_photo.caption Eileen Shafer, a member of the Clover Crusaders 4-H Club, smiles Sunday with her canned carrots project inside of the 4-H project exhibition barn at the Jefferson City Cole County Jaycees Fair. Her canned carrots project received a blue ribbon and will move on to the Missouri State Fair. Shafer participated in a handful of projects this year, including gardening, sewing and clowning. Shafer is the only 4-H member in Cole County to participate in clowning and is one of the few statewide. Photo by Greta Cross / News Tribune.

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.

Story continues below video.

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 HaselhorstTaylor RileyMadisyn SuessGarrett 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.

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