Every year, a few young women in Lebanon County compete to earn the title of the Lebanon Area Fair Queen. Well, almost every year.

Last year, no Fair Queen was crowned due to the ongoing pandemic, and the 2019 Fair Queen Shay Miller held her crown for an extra year. Saturday, however, she passed on her title to the new 2021 Fair Queen, Katie Shaak.

2019 Fair Queen Shay Miller (left) crowns the 2021 Fair Queen Katie Shaak (right).

The Fair Queen is selected by three judges from the Lebanon County Educational Honor Society based on several rounds of competition. Results are based on a written essay, personal interview with the judges, a speech presentation, and an evening gown/introductions segment conducted immediately prior to the new Fair Queen being named.

This year was a close race, with only a 1.5 point difference between Shaak and Alternate Fair Queen Nina Stevenson. The maximum score is 100 points.

2019 Fair Queen Shay Miller (left) adorns 2021 Alternate Queen Nina Stevenson (right) with her sash..

All three contestants — Shaak, Stevenson, and Joleen Bomgardner — introduced themselves and made brief impromptu speeches based on the following prompt: “The purpose of the PSACF [Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs] program is to promote the education of young women in Pennsylvania. How do you see yourself fulfilling this purpose?”

Katie Shaak, 2021 Fair Queen. In her impromptu speech, Shaak discussed the male-dominated field of agriculture and how she hopes to be an example for girls as a woman pursuing a career in the field.
Nina Stevenson, 2021 Alternate Queen. Stevenson’s impromptu speech discussed the importance of getting the word out about the Fair Queen Contest as an opportunity for young women.
Joleen Bomgardner, Fair Queen contestant. Bomgardner’s impromptu speech focused on how the opportunity to compete for Fair Queen was beneficial to her, and could be for other young women.

To be eligible to compete, the young women needed to be Lebanon County residents, current or former participants in Lebanon County 4-H programs for at least two years and between 16 and 20 years old, among other requirements.

The young women prepare to be called on stage. From left to right: 2021 Fair Queen Katie Shaak, contestant Joleen Bomgardner, Alternate Queen Nina Stevenson, 2019 Fair Queen Shay Miller and PA Fair Queen Addison Neff.

2021 State Fair Queen Addison Neff of Elizabethtown also attended the ceremony. She was crowned in April following a competition taking place mostly over Zoom.

PA State Fair Queen Addison Neff addresses the crowd.

As the new Lebanon Area Fair Queen, Shaak will take on a variety of duties both at the fair and in future appearances. One is giving awards to kids, something Miller’s farewell speech noted as her favorite part of the role.

Prior to the Fair Queen being named, the contestants sit on stage around Shay Miller, the 2019 Fair Queen.

Shaak will hold her title until next year, when the cycle will repeat and she will crown the 2022 Fair Queen.

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Emily Bixler was born and raised in Lebanon and now reports on local government. In her free time, she enjoys playing piano and going for hikes.