By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News
Ella Francis was crowned the 2018 Henry County Fair Queen during the queen competition on Thursday, July 19.
The senior New London High School student competed against four other contestants for the title, who were all judged based on their volunteerism, community service, leadership, confidence and their ability to be role models.
The queen competition included for the first time ever princess contestants, who introduced themselves wearing ?party? attire and stood beside their queen counterparts. Megan Lee was crowned the Henry County Fair Princess and will serve as a little sister to the queen.
First Fair Queen runner up and Miss Congeniality was Mt. Pleasant High School senior Samantha Decker. Miss Congeniality is chosen by the contestants.
Queen contestants spent the afternoon Thursday with judges for a round of interviews before stepping onto the stage that evening in professional business attire to introduce themselves. Following introductions, contestants changed into casual wear, an outfit that represented what contestants enjoyed wearing. They were judged on confidence and poise.
Finally, contestants were escorted onto the stage in formal wear, during which they answered a random, impromptu question drawn by 2017 Fair Queen Dani Broeker.
Francis, who was awarded Miss Congeniality last year at the 2017 Fair Queen competition, was asked what advice she would give to someone who looks up to her.
?Just be yourself,? Francis said simply. ?So often nowadays we are scared to be ourselves around friends or anyone who is not our own family, and even sometimes them. Don?t be afraid and know how special you are.?
In addition to being Miss Congeniality last year and now Fair Queen, Francis? claim to fame is being the inventor and lover of the hot dog pizza. Escorted by her father David Francis, Francis was introduced as an active member of NHS, student council, musicals and plays, student advisory committee and is a student ambassador.
Other awards she has received includes being on the honor roll, academic excellence, and has lettered in cheer, choir, band and track. Francis plans to attend college to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner specializing in mental health after she graduates from high school.
Runner up Decker is also not new to the contestant stage as she was a Miss Sweet 16 contestant during Midwest Old Threshers last year. When asked why she decided to compete for this year?s Henry County Fair Queen as her impromptu question, Decker said, ?I decided to compete this year to really try new things and step out of my box. This experience has brought me memories that will last me a lifetime and I?m really glad that I did it.?
Decker was escorted by her grandpa Jim Decker.
The other queen contestants were Alexandra Gerling, senior at MPCHS; Kristina Willey, 2017 graduate from MPCHS; and Jenna Hummell, senior at New London High School.
As judges deliberated, Broeker reflected on the last year as fair queen, a role she thoroughly enjoyed including competing at the 2017 Iowa State Fair. Even so, she was looking forward to welcoming a new queen and heading off to college in the fall.
?The Henry County Fair Queen is something I will cherish for the rest of my life,? Broeker said.
Between costume changes, 4-H students presented clothing they created for the Henry County Fair.
KILJ News Director Theresa Rose emceed the event.