To the editor:

For years, I have been part of the Jay County community and for the last four years, I have helped with the Miss Jay County Fair Queen Pageant.

We can all agree the year of 2020 brought challenges none of us anticipated. Yet, Jay County came together to produce a 4-H Fair and a pageant that will help our youth continue community traditions that are part of the culture that is Jay County.  

First of all, the pageant committee would like to thank Jay County Fair Board for providing a location on the fairgrounds for the pageant. We appreciated the air conditioning and the ability to continue the pageant as closely to tradition as possible.  

Secondly, the merchants and donors remained supportive of the pageant advertising despite a challenging spring term. Once the fair board decided to go forward with the fair, our committee had weeks to pull together a pageant in a new location. Advertising was necessary to pay for costs. Few sponsors pulled their support. One judge looked at our program commenting she could not believe how many businesses were supportive. Yet, that is what I have come to expect from this county.  

Finally, an enthusiastic thank you goes to the seven contestants who put their hearts into the pageant and made the rehearsal process so fun. Kristy Alig, Sara Hemmelgarn, Rosemary Hemmelgarn, McKenna Daniels (Miss Congeniality), Gabi Paxson (second runner-up), Kenna Kahlig (first runner-up) and Julia McClung (2020 Miss Jay County) worked closely with 2019 Miss Jay County Klarisa Hemmelgarn and her court — Allie Brinkerhoff, Shalynn Overholser, Cerridwen Harris and Katelyn Harris — to acquire the interview and pageant skills necessary to impress the judges. The committee cannot express enough gratitude to these ladies for all of their work and enthusiasm for this county and fair tradition.

Although there will not be a 2021 state queen pageant, Julia McClung will compete at the 2022 state queen pageant alongside the 2021 Miss Jay County. The committee encourages the community to make use of the talents of Julia, Kenna, Gabi and McKenna as they are eloquent speakers and are eager to give back to their community.

Jay County is fortunate to have both The Commercial Review and WPGW. As plans developed and changed, both were able to alert the community to necessary information. For those who were not able to attend the pageant, Jay Today has the full pageant available on YouTube at bit.ly/JCfairqueen2020.

As my husband and I prepare to move from Jay County, I am especially touched by the support Jay County gives especially through times of struggle. This community respects tradition and prioritizes the success of their youth.

I am proud to be an Optimist and have had the pleasure of being part of the Miss Jay County Pageant.

Abby (Muhlenkamp) Fullenkamp, 2014 Miss Jay County, will chair the committee next year. She will need ladies ages 18 to 21 who enjoy the great Jay County Fair.

Although circumstances were different than ever before this year, once again, Jay County supported tradition. Congratulations to our 2020 Miss Jay County and court.

Carol Gebert

Portland