When she was named runner-up in the Crawford County Fair Queen Pageant last year, Cochranton’s Sarah Colgrove immediately determined that she would be back in the contest this year.
Her determination paid off Saturday when she fulfilled a lifelong dream and donned the sash as the 2019 Fair Queen on the stage of Meadville Area Senior High.
“I have been looking up to the Fair Queen forever,” Colgrove, 19, said in between photos with fellow contestants, Crawford County Fair Board officials and others following the competition, “and being able to be Fair Queen and being that role model for the younger generations is something that I look forward to.”
There was never any question about trying for the title again, Colgrove said, and her duties as queen began almost immediately. After posing for dozens of photos with many of the more than 100 people who attended, she was headed to the Cochranton Community Fair.
While Colgrove knew she would be back in 2019, the Fair Board was less certain that anyone would be competing for Fair Queen this year. In December, the board voted to end the 10-year-old contest. Open to girls ages 16 to 20, the event had difficulty in recent years attracting participants willing to submit an essay, perform a skit and undergo an interview, board members said at the time.
Several months after the contest was called off, new board member Dean Maynard asked his fellow members to reconsider the decision. The board then voted to stage the contest again, Maynard said after Colgrove was crowned Saturday.
“I think it went smoothly,” Maynard said. “The (Fair Queen) committee pulled it all together and we had some great contestants and support from their families.”
The motivation to continue the contest came largely from the fair’s major corporate sponsors, according to Maynard.
“A few of the major sponsors said, sure we’re going to help the fair,” Maynard recalled, “but we can’t believe you canceled the pageant.”
This year, four participants submitted an essay, gave a brief performance on “Why you should visit the Crawford County Fair” and then changed into evening wear before offering their responses to randomly drawn interview questions. Colgrove beat out Haley Hess of Saegertown, Paige Verbanac of Cambridge Springs and Lindsey Lee of Conneaut Lake.
In addition to Colgrove being named Fair Queen, Hess won the best essay, photogenic and first runner-up awards.
Following the pageant, Colgrove’s parents, Laurie and Joe, put in some time practicing some of the activities they’ll likely spend more time on at the fair (which is coming up Aug. 17 to 24) — trailing behind their daughter, beaming with pride as she takes photos and promotes the fair’s many activities.
“I’m proud of her,” Laurie said. ““She worked hard for it. It’s something she wanted for a long time.”
Mike Crowley can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.