HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 27, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Elizabethtown Fair Queen Lia Schmittel of Middletown, Dauphin County, was crowned the 2014 Pennsylvania Fair Queen on Saturday, Jan. 25, at the annual joint convention of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs and Pennsylvania State Showmen's Association.
"This queen competition brings together agriculture's best young advocates from across Pennsylvania," said Agriculture Secretary George Greig. "These 58 poised, confident ladies serve as great ambassadors for fairs and agriculture. I congratulate Lia and look forward to working with her to promote Pennsylvania's top industry."
Schmittel is the daughter of Scott and Deb Schmittel of Middletown, Dauphin County. She is a 19-year-old Equine Science and Management Major at Delaware Valley College in Doylestown, Bucks County. A member of the college's Equestrian Vaulting Team, Apiary Society and Collegiate Farm Bureau, she is also on the Women's Varsity Track and Field Team as a pole vaulter, long jumper and triple jumper. She served as 2012 Pennsylvania State Rabbit Queen and remains active with the Pennsylvania State Rabbit Breeders Association. A Dauphin County 4-H alumnus, she continues to volunteer and assist at the Dauphin County 4-H Fair.
Schmittel will receive a $2,500 scholarship from the state fair association. She was crowned by outgoing Pennsylvania Fair Queen Rhonda Carl of Hegins, Schuylkill County.
Each of the 58 contestants prepared a brief speech highlighting the activities at her county or community fair. They also wrote an essay about the fair's significance in their life and local community. Each queen also gave a stage introduction during the fair convention annual banquet and was interviewed by three judges.
Contestants are evaluated on their public speaking skills and knowledge of the agriculture industry, as well as on their poise and personal presentation in an evening gown competition.
Five finalists were chosen and gave an impromptu answer on how they would promote Pennsylvania fairs and agriculture as state fair queen.
Bedford County Fair Queen Kelley Jay of Artemas, Bedford County, was selected as Alternate Pennsylvania Fair Queen. The daughter of Bryan and Tammy Jay, she is studying animal science and agribusiness management at Penn State University. At school she is in the Dairy Science Club, Block and Bridle Club and Delta Theta Sigma Fraternity. She was active in the Chapman's Run 4-H Club and Bedford FFA and showed dairy cattle and steers, lambs and market hogs on county, state and national levels. She served as 2011 Bedford County Dairy Princess.
Other top five finalists were Centre County Grange Fair Queen Madison Kauffman, Juniata County Fair Queen Katherine McLaughlin and Westmoreland County Fair Queen Hattie Henderson.
Tioga County Fair Queen Corinne Evans was named Miss Congeniality, an award voted on by queen contestants.
The three judges were Christine Greig, Linesville, Crawford County; Dr. James Howe, Oley, Berks County; and Jean Kummer, Evans City, Butler County. Master of Ceremonies was Kevin Bieber of Oley, Berks County.
Pennsylvania is home to 109 county and community fairs. Schmittel, the 28th state queen, will travel the state representing Pennsylvania's rich agricultural heritage and serving as an ambassador for the fair association.
Media contact: Nicole L.C. Bucher, 717-787-5085
Editor's note: Visit www.agriculture.state.pa.us and click on "Media" then "Photo Gallery" and "2014 PA Fair Queen" for high-resolution photos.
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture