Fair Royalty Program Teaches Discipline and Commitment
By Shaley Dehner, Weld County Communications Specialist, Photos courtesy of Weld County Fair and Denise Leafgren
Fair royalty has been a part of the Weld County Fair since the 1950s. But it has also undergone many changes to remain relevant. “Back in the 1960s, the Lions Clubs would nominate a girl to compete for royalty. Those girls attended an interview and wore formal attire,” said Pat Kindvall, Galeton Co-Organizational 4-H Leader. “Now, the girls go through a more extensive interview process and don’t have to wear formal dresses.”
Through 1980, there were a queen and two attendants. But in 1981, royalty was reduced to include a queen and one attendant. Then, in 1993, it was decided that a queen, attendant and princess would be crowned and that a panel of judges would select the royalty court. The fair has had a queen, attendant, and princess ever since, except for one year, when there was only one candidate vying for the positions of queen and attendant; therefore, two princesses were crowned. And once someone has been queen, they cannot try out again.
Beverly Hancock Sullivan remembers her time as an attendant in 1973 as a fun experience. “We were treated by Big R to an outfit and hat for the Fourth of July parade. I got to meet a lot of people and was made to feel like royalty.”
Currently, the fair royalty board chooses the top three girls – even if they are all princesses, queens or attendants.
Candidates can try out for princess if they are 11 to 14 years old or queen and attendant if they are 15 to 18 years old during their reigning year. Boys can try out as well, although none have thus far.
According to Kindvall, fair royalty has changed a lot over the years.
In 1978, Michelle LeBlanc Gross, was an attendant. “We went to every Weld County Fair. We passed out ribbons, trophies, and buckles,” LeBlanc Gross said. “We rode horses in many parades and a few floats. We had to sew our own outfits and wore a prairie skirt and light weight top for attending local meetings to represent fair and western slacks, shirts, boots, and cowboy hats for other events.”
Today, aspiring royalty candidates are evaluated by the committee in a number of ways. In addition to being interviewed, candidates must also model, give a speech on a topic decided by the fair royalty committee and answer impromptu questions. In 2017, candidates were asked to come to the fair and help the current royalty hand out ribbons at various shows so the judges can see if the candidates will be good royalty.
For several years now, the fair royalty committee has taken each girl to the Colorado Association of Fairs and Shows (CAFS) Convention in November. At the convention, the girls take countless workshops that teach them how to serve as courteous, respectful, humble and enthusiastic ambassadors of their fairs.
“The committee feels that before they start their reign they need some training. Therefore, we don’t crown them at fair as we have done in previous years,” Kindvall explained. “We have our contest right before fair, so we can announce it at fair and then we have the fall to get them ready for their reigning year.”
The royalty court must follow strict rules such as always looking their best, being well groomed, and dressed in designated royalty attire as discussed by the royalty committee. They are to present a pleasant personality with maturity, respect and appropriate attitude in all situations and must represent the fair and its related activities in a cooperative and professional manner. If these rules are broken, the person can be removed from the royalty court – but this has only happened once.
In the 1980s, the committee would take the royalty court to all the administrative offices of the small towns in Weld County to invite residents to the fair. However, most of the towns didn’t have full-time staff, so this was discontinued.
Camy Seelhoff, the 2018 Weld County Fair Attendant explained what they do as royalty. “We promote the fair leading up to it and make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible during fair week.”
Weld County Fair Queen, Madison LaBorde, loves being a part of the Weld County Fair. “It’s a time when everyone comes together. We’re all just one huge family and even though we’re super competitive, we have each other’s back if anyone needs anything,” she said.
For Weld County Fair Princess, Molly Koslosky, the fair is a chance to get people excited about the events and activities and being able to support the other 4-H and FFA members is very rewarding.
“As a representative of the fair, I help with different activities throughout the year such as the Children’s Festival and Cinco De Mayo where little kids get to see me helping them,” Koslosky said. “I’m serving as a role model for younger kids.”
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Weld County Fair the 2017 royalty court are having a plaque made that has the names of fair royalty from 1970 to present inscribed on it. This plaque will be dedicated at the free Community BBQ on Sunday.
A ROYAL GEM
Pat Kindvall grew up in Weld County and attended the Weld County Fair with her siblings and friends. She and her husband, Ron, raised a family in Eaton and have continued to be integral participants, not only in the Weld County Fair, but agriculturally as well. Kindvall’s children were the reason she got involved with the Weld County Fair in the 1960s as they started to show projects. Kindvall became involved with fair royalty shortly after. Kindvall was on the fair board for 24 years and has been the Galeton Co-Organizational 4-H Leader for 43 years.