Crowns, awards, and poignant words were handed out to the sound of vibrant 4-H Band music Monday at the Lorain County Fair’s 2016 opening ceremony.
Armand Ortiz, 18, of Oberlin, and Madeline Ott, 19, of Vermilion, graciously took the torch from their predecessors, Austin Washburn and Katie Cline, to become this year’s Junior Fair king and queen.
They both thanked their mothers for giving them the inspiration to join 4-H, which the winners consider invaluable preparation for success at the fair and in life.
Ott is a two-year 4-H member and has shown dairy projects through the Lorain County Dairy Club. She is attending Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
“My mom was in 4-H her entire life and she encouraged me to start,” she said. “I was about five years old. We did a lot of crafts and I really enjoyed it. I’ve stayed in the program ever since, completed many projects, and tried to participate in as many 4-H events as possible. You can’t sit on the sidelines. The more you put into 4-H the more you get out of it.”
Ortiz is two-year member of the Grafton Grangers 4-H Club, a nine-year member of 4-H Homegrowers, and a five-year member of the 4-H Band. He is studying marine biology at Bowling Green State University.
“It took a couple of years for my mom to convince me to run for king,” he said. “I didn’t realize you didn’t have to be on the Junior Fair board. Being able to run for king without being on fair board allowed me to continue to do more college preparation. I’m studying a lot of environmental stuff that’s tied in with marine biology.”
Joining the pair in the Royal Court were first runners up Troy Washburn of New London and Emily Klier of Wellington, as well as Wellington Future Farmers of America president Bailey Wise.
The coronation followed a presentation of the colors by the Wellington VFW, playing of the national anthem from the Lorain County 4-H Band, and introduction of the royal court by Wellington mayor Hans Schneider. Kim Meyers of the Lorain County Fair board received the Claire Hill Award from WEOL’s Craig Adams for his years of service to the area after the king and queen were announced.
Schneider reflected on his journey from a child attending the fair to village official.
“As a kid you’re here for the rides, the food, and the shows,” he said. “Then I began to do the same thing with my kids by bringing them up here. To come here today as a representative of the community is very humbling for me to do. I’m thankful that they asked me to speak. It’s an honor for me and it’s an honor for this area to host this event. It’s nothing that’s taken for granted — all the hard work that the fair board puts into in, and the countless number of hours of labor it takes to make it successful is a huge accomplishment.”
The fair serves as a great advertisement for people who don’t regularly travel to southern Lorain County and can sometimes serve as incentive to relocate to the area, Schneider said.
“Maybe someone comes down here and sees something they like,” he said. “They can decide it’s a great community and they want to live here. I met a lady who went up on stage after me today and she just bought a house on Johns Street. The fair is a celebration of the agricultural history of our area, state, and country.”
Other first-day festivities included needlework and honey judging, crowning of the royal canine court, the Junior Fair dog show, bake sales, and a nighttime concert by 38 Special. Attractions for later in the week are highlighted by the NTPA Grand National Tractor Pull on Friday, combine and pickup truck derby Saturday, and demolition derby Sunday.
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise
Madeline Ott of Vermilion and Armand Ortiz of Oberlin were crowned the 2016 Junior Fair king and queen.