Shelby White is competing to be queen of the county fair

Photo by Marcy Stamper
Shelby White is vying to be queen — and ambassador for the fair — over the next year. She has been showing animals at the fair since she was 6.

By Marcy Stamper

Shelby White has been showing pigs and steers at the Okanogan County Fair since she was 6 years old. Now White, age 15, is competing to be queen of the fair — to be an ambassador for the event as it enters its eighth decade.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I looked at all the royalty from around Washington at the fair, and it was a really cool experience to see the role models” — and the sashes and tiaras, said White. Not only do queens from other fairs around the state stop by the fair, but rodeo royalty also make an appearance.

White and three other girls from around the county are competing to be fair queen. They’ve already given radio interviews, explaining why they want to be queen and what they would do to promote the fair during their reign, and prepared a three-ring binder with letters of recommendation, photos and an essay.

As ambassador for the fair over the next year, the queen will travel to at least five parades, rodeos, schools and chamber of commerce meetings to promote the fair and encourage participation.

The fair has always meant a lot to White, who’s been attending as long as she can remember. White’s comfort with animals comes naturally, since she’s been raised on a ranch.

White has shown steers the past three years, but this year she’s raised a pig. White said she loved showing steers because it gave her more time to raise and train them. But that extra time also meant it was more difficult to part with the animal, she said.

This year, White is president of the Methow Valley Cascaders 4-H Club. In her essay for the royalty competition, she described how meaningful the 4-H experience has been. “It’s amazing to see how the community can come together” and how kids get to know each other in many different ways through 4-H, she said.

White and the other aspirants will deliver a five-minute speech that incorporates this year’s fair theme, “70 Years of Pride, County Wide,” at the pageant on Thursday night, Sept. 7. Making the speech doesn’t feel daunting, since White has been making public presentations through 4-H since age 6.

The contenders will also have to answer impromptu questions, and will be observed throughout the fair by “secret” judges, said Marcie Howell, the royalty adviser.

The aspiring queens will get to do some judging of their own. They’ll help this year’s queen pick winners in contests such as the Dynamic Duo on Friday, Sept. 8, where children dress themselves and their sheep as pairs (like ketchup and mustard or Batman and Robin, said Howell). They’ll also help select the best-dressed chickens and rabbits.

Being queen is open to all girls age 15 to 19. Two of the other contenders are from Tonasket and the other girl is from Omak.

The girls are scored on their interviews; on speech, poise and etiquette; and on their essays and binders, said Howell.

The fair runs from Thursday, Sept. 7 through Sunday, Sept. 10. The coronation of next year’s queen is Sunday at 2 p.m.