(Posted July 8, 2021)
By Olivia Rinesmith, Madison County Fair Queen
“It’s only after you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” – Roy T. Bennett
It feels so surreal that it has been two years since I was crowned the 2019 Madison County Junior Fair queen. A lot has happened since that day. In 2019, I was newly graduate from London High School, trying to find my path within the journey of life. I am lucky to have started off my journey by representing our great county.
I was soaking up all of what I thought would be just another fair when it turned out being one of the greatest weeks of my life. If any of you know me, you know I am not afraid to talk to people, especially with a crown on my head. I was going from television interviews, to helping pass out ribbons to our dedicated youth, to leading our Cloverbuds through the Passport to the Madison County Fair, to being involved with any other event going on. I loved having people, young and old, come up and talk to me, asking for pictures or questions regarding our great fair.
Also, if you know me, you know I love fairs. Having this title made the perfect excuse to travel all across the state and, of course, eat as many deep-fried Oreos as I could. I tried to go to as many fairs and parades as I could. I loved seeing how other fairs operate and truly enjoyed exposing myself to new ideas to bring back to Madison County. One of these ideas was to create photo opportunities around the fair that exhibitors, families, and guests can use to help promote our fair and to capture memories.
On Jan. 1, 2020, I competed in the Ohio Fair Managers Association’s (OFMA) Ohio Fairs Queen Competition. The support I had from our small community made me proud to be representing our county alongside 87 of my fellow county fair queens. I am happy to say I placed in the Top 15 which has not been achieved in our county for quite some time.
As we all know, in March 2020, our lives came to a standstill. With the uncertainty of what the 2020 fair was going to look like, we made the decision to freeze the 2019 queen’s court. I didn’t want the next court to miss out on all of the amazing opportunities this role gives. I hope this year’s court can travel safely and have an amazing time representing our fair around the state.
While serving as fair queen in 2020, I also had the privilege to serve as the fair’s intern. While I sat in on fair board meetings, my heart hurt as I realized the Madison County Fair might not happen. I took it upon myself to reach out to all the youth I know. We created a promotional video showcasing the youths and their hard work, dedication, and passion for their projects, hoping we could have a junior fair. The video had almost 5,000 views along with hundreds of shares and comments. It also was sent to the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s office.
From there, we were moving forward on with a junior fair only due to COVID-19 concerns. Throughout the week, I helped organize the Facebook Lives every morning, created flyers for viewers to know what was going on each day, and helped to run shows when needed.
I was grateful to be able to take an alpaca project in my final year as a 4-H member. We are beyond blessed to have been able to have a junior fair during a time of uncertainty, even though it was quite different than usual. I ended my 4-H career doing what I love, helping young members with their projects, even if they make me cry at the end of the show because I am “too old” to show again.
Here I am, two years later. I have graduated from The Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute (ATI) with an associate degree in agricultural communications. I am halfway through my college career, as I make the transition to the Columbus campus. This past fall, I was crowned Ohio State ATI’s homecoming queen, and I am a candidate for the 2021 Ohio Lamb and Wool ambassador.
I am not the same girl I was the last time I was here. The self-growth I have had in these past two years is amazing. This experience has helped to shape me into the young woman I am becoming. It has taught me grace, patience, communication skills, self-confidence, and how to use the perks of being queen when there is a concert at a visiting fair.
My time as your Madison County Fair queen is finally coming to an end, but my passion to be a role model and leader will never cease to exist. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to represent Madison County for the past two years. It also meant that I wasn’t completely done with this place until now, no matter how many times I said I was “retired.” The future is uncertain, and I do not know where life will take me. I do know I will never be far from this place because it has shown me what home and family is.
I am forever grateful for my 14 years in 4-H and four years in FFA. The life lessons and experiences have been amazing but finding true friendships and a passion for agriculture will always be my favorite part. I am eager to see the next generation of youth strive and nurture a passion for agriculture just as I did. I would like to say a huge thank-you to my court, our royalty director, junior and senior fair board, Extension office, and all of our clubs, exhibitors, and sponsors who make my favorite week of the year happen.
For the last time, I am Olivia Rinesmith, your 2019 and 2020 Madison County Junior Fair queen.
The 2021 Madison County Fair runs July 10-17. For a full schedule of events, visit Madison County Fair.