SIDNEY — A last-minute entry Sunday in the 2016 Shelby County Fair Little Mister contest captured the hearts of audience and judges and took home the crown and $50 prize.
Alex Brown, 5, son of Tina Gill and Terry Brown, of Sidney, had not participated in the competition before. The family was at the fair and four minutes before the event began, Alex joined the contestants.
“It was my dad’s idea,” he said.
“We put him in to honor his grandparents,” Gill said. “Mary and the late Phil Brown. They loved the fair.” Phil Brown was killed in an accident about a month ago, Gill added. “He would be so proud of Alex.”
Katelyn Middleton, 4, daughter of Susan and Alan Middleton, of Sidney, was named the fair’s Little Miss. She had been a contestant in 2015 and was happy to win this year. To get ready for the cometition, Katelyn practiced a song. She sang the national anthem while waving a small flag, which had the large crowd of onlookers in the Free Entertainment Tent cheering. The Middletons plan to attend all six days of the fair.
The 15 Little Miss and five Little Mister candidates each talked with mistress of ceremonies Becky Eilers. They told what their favorite books were, what they were doing doing the summer and what they liked about the fair. Some sang songs.
Clancy’s sponsored the contest and provided the $50 prizes. Judges were Carol Purvis, Travis Unterbink and Terry Lenhart.
Claire Spicer, 17, daughter of Marian and Gary Spicer, of Anna, will reign as the 2016 Shelby County Junior Fair Queen. Mark Siefring, 18, son of Carmen and Vern Siefring, of Russia, was crowned Junior Fair King. Both were first-time contestants.
They competed against seven other candidates for queen and six others for king. Each teen had been interviewed by judges Bob Guillozet, Julie Ehemann, Duane Bachman, John Coffield and Betty Miars in advance of the staged pageant Sunday night. In front of the judges and attending audience in the Free Entertainment Tent, each one gave a speech, paraded in formal wear and answered impromptu questions.
During her speech, Spicer exhibited a quilt she had made honoring her friends, family and 4-H buddies.
“My life is kind of like a quilt,” she said. She talked about how the institutions represented by the blocks in the quilt that contributed to making her the person she is.
“Everyone looks for a place they belong,” she said.
Siefring took the stage in a long black wig and performed on his electric guitar before calling himself a self-proclaimed rock star and comparing the qualities needed to become one to those developed in 4-H: perseverence, responsibility, teamwork, respect and connection with people.
Spicer joked with the audience during the question/answer section of the competition. When asked what she hoped her legacy would be, she said, “That I was the best junior fair queen ever!”
Siefring was asked how he would describe the smell of the fair to someone who couldn’t smell.
“Imagine a really big pile of ugly stuff and then make it 10 times worse,” he said.
Both teens were surprised when 2015 Fair Queen Mary Buehler and 2015 Fair King Micah Smock called their names as winners. The 2015 royals served as master and mistress of ceremonies during the event.
“I thought there were a lot of great girls going out this year,” Spicer said when the crowning ceremony had ended. “I’m thrilled that I won and get to represent Shelby County. I’m looking forward to going to other fairs to meet new people and tell them how great Shelby County is.”
It was a fellow contestant who encouraged Siefring to participate.
“Last summer, my friend, Luke Bohman did it. He said it was a lot of fun, so I thought I’d do it this year,” the new king said. “I was surprised (to win). I don’t have as built-up a resume of the fair as some of the other contestants.”
He does have initiative, however. During the almost half hour during which the judges deliberated, Siefring grabbed his guitar and gathered all the contestants onstage for a sing-along.
The first runner-up in the queen contest was Sara Maurer, 18, daughter of Linda and Jim Maurer, of Fort Loramie. Mindy Schmitmeyer, 18, daughter of Kelly and Gary Schmitmeyer, of Anna, was second runner-up.
First runner-up in the king contest was Joshua Miller, 17, son of Sue and Dan Miller, of Botkins. Nathan Poeppelman, 17, son of Laura and Tom Poeppelman, of Anna, was second runner-up.
Siefring and Megan Maurer, 16, daughter of Linda and Jim Maurer, of Fort Loramie, were voted Mr. and Miss Congeniality by their peers in the contest.
The king and queen each received $150 prizes. First runners-up won $50 each; second runners-up, $30 each; and the congeniality winners got $20 each.
Lydia Rinehart, a 4-H program assistant, Junior Fair Board adviser and coordinator of the pageant, said she had encouraged many of the contestants to get involved.
“I say they have to do a speech and they say, ‘I don’t want to do a speech.’ Then they get up (on stage) and knock it out of the park,” she said.
During intermission, Tom Archer and Roger Liess were inducted into the Shelby County 4-H Hall of Fame.
Little Miss candidates were Caroline, 3, and Claire Morris, 5, daughters of Amy and Jeff Morris, of Botkins; Ashleyanna Bergman, 4, daughter of Christina and Ken Bergman, of Russia; Hailey Sparks, 5, daughter of Jaimi Sparks, of Quincy; and Kale Wiley, 5, daughter of Kara and Keith Wiley; Sophia Perkins, 3, daughter of Rosanna Henderson; Bella Dumke, 3, daughter of Alysia Dumke; Ava Riethman, 5, daughter of Jessica Pryor; Madalynn Wooddell, 4, daughter of Misty and Rob Wooddell; Abigail Hollenbacher, 5, daughter of Natalie and Andy Hollenbacher; Laiyla Ferguson, 3, daughter of Shauna and Jake Ferguson; Paysley Teegarden, 4, daughter of Nicki Meyers and Paul Teegarden; and Adelaide, 5, and Ariella Dearth, 3, daughters of Sherry and Jeremy Dearth, all of Sidney.
Little Mister candidates were Braxton Roberts, 4, son of Shannon and Dan Roberts, of Jackson Center; Weston Delaet, 5, son of Ann and Chad Delaet, of Russia; and Kyle, 5, and Henry Bensman, 3, sons of Sheila and Randy Bensman, of Sidney.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.