If no one signs up to be a contestant for Miss Crawford County Fair next year, we would understand.

There is no queen this year after the winner lost her crown before the fair even started and runner-up resigned the night before the fair was to open.

The saga started shortly after the original winner left the competition at Meadville Area Senior High School on Aug. 10 and went to the Cochranton Community Fair.

Sarah Colgrove confirmed to Mike Crowley that fair officials had been sent a photo of her wearing her sash and crown and holding hands with her boyfriend at the Cochranton Community Fair.

She also was accused of being at the fair unchaperoned. She acknowledged holding hands with her boyfriend at the fair but said her mother was with her as chaperone.

Dean Maynard, the chairman of the pageant committee, refused to elaborate on the rules violation when asked by the Tribune.

There's nothing specifically on the pageant committee's website outlawing a public display of affection. However, the website refers to the Pennsylvania State Fair Queen rules.

The code of conduct specifically prohibits public displays of affection with dates/boyfriends while wearing the Pennsylvania State Fair Queen crown and/or sash and representing the Pennsylvania State Fair Queen program. 

And while we fully support enforcing the rules, the nebulous no-no of “public displays of affection” while wearing a sash and crown leaves a lot to interpretation, not to mention archaic. The code of conduct also outlaws chewing gum among its rules.

While the pageant's rules or the state fair's rules don't go into detail over what qualifies as a public display of affection, the pageant committee determined that holding hands does.

The committee should consider a detailed list of rules and consider whether holding hands in public deserves the decision that happened to this year's winner.

The runner-up, Haley Hess, was elevated to queen days after the competition and was to officially be crowned on Saturday. She, however, resigned on the eve of the start of the fair.

That left the fair without a queen since the pageant committee had the judges only place a queen and a first runner-up.

The committee vowed a return of the pageant next summer.

“We believe that a fair of our size and significance in PA (Pennsylvania) agriculture needs to have a queen and we will work to eventually have a queen again, but it is clear that this year we are not ready as a county,” the group said in a prepared statement.

If you take that statement in a vacuum, you would think that this is the first time interest in the pageant has waned — or that there was an issue with a winner losing the crown.

Whether the pageant committee wants to admit it or not, there's evidence of a lack of interest.

We went back through the past seven pageants — including this year's — and there has been as many as six contestants and as few as four over that span.

Last year, Fair Board President Bill Winters said sometimes there have been three contestants.

And it's not the first time that controversy surrounded the pageant. In 2009, the winner stepped down after unflattering photo surfaced.

Maybe the Fair Board had it correct when it voted 5-1 at the end of last year to end the pageant that began in 2009. At the time of the decision, the board described the struggle of finding contestants. We'd like to see them take up the discussion again.

Maybe there's a way to generate interest in Miss Crawford County Fair. A fair as large as Crawford County deserves as much and it was a disappointment walking along the fairgrounds knowing there was no fair queen this year.

But with the events that took place over the last week, we wouldn't be surprised if no one wants to step forward for the pageant again. 

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