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By Emily Bontrager
The Missouri State Fair Queen Contest can be a tough competition to compete in, but that did not stop local teen Erin Bash from participating this year.
Erin Bash, 17, is the daughter of Jim and Nancy Bash of Kahoka. She attends the Clark County R-1 High School and will be a Junior this year.
Stepping out of her comfort zone, Erin decided to compete in this year’s Clark County Fair Royalty Contest which was held on July 13, 2022.
“I knew a lot of people did not want to be the first ones because they didn’t know what to expect, but I thought if I could do it now, everyone else could see that it is not scary and a good experience,” Erin stated.
Erin was nervous to compete at first, but she decided that it was something she needed to do.
“I hate change, but I asked myself ‘Why would I not want to do this?’ And I said, ‘Because I’m scared’ and that’s a terrible reason, so I made myself do it,” Erin said.
“I realized that if I take that leap and stop thinking about it and just do it, my growth will gain so much faster than if I’m just scared.”
After becoming the Miss Clark County Fair Queen, Erin decided to compete at the Missouri State Fair Queen pageant.
“I am all about life experiences. I have never done anything like this before and I knew I really had to push myself, especially being one of the youngest contestants,” Erin said.
To prepare herself for the competition, Erin practiced her speech as much as possible. She also attended a Teen’s and Training camp in Quincy, Illinois that was held by the Miss America Organization on July 23.
“I learned how to walk and carry myself. I did a lot of walking in heels and I had to go buy some new dresses,” Erin said.
The Missouri State Fair Queen Contest was held on Wednesday, August 10 and Thursday, August 11 in the Mathewson Exhibition Center in Sedalia, Missouri.
There were a total of 41 competitors from across the state that competed in the competition. Participants were judged in multiple categories, including interview, speech, talent, and evening gown.
Erin turned 17 on the last day of the competition and competed against girls ranging from the ages of 17 years old to 22 years old.
The first round of the competition started with interviews on the morning of August 10. Each interview consisted of two-minute interview rounds with each of the five judges.
On Thursday, contestants had the choice of giving a speech or performing a talent. Erin chose to give a two-minute speech, which was titled “Just a Small Town Girl.”
“It was about how I used 4-H and FFA to get me where I am today,” Erin said.
Erin is a member of the Ashton Cloverleaf 4-H Club. She joined when she was eight years old and has served as the club’s president for the past five years. Erin is also a member of the Clark County FFA Chapter and she serves as the chapter’s reporter.
After the speech and talent portion of the pageant, Erin competed in the evening gown portion of the contest Thursday afternoon. She graced the stage with a sparkly off the shoulder silver and pink mermaid dress.
After this portion of the competition, the top ten contestants were chosen. Each of the top ten participants answered an on-stage question and the top four awards recognizing individuals in interview, speech, talent, and evening gown were announced.
“I knew that I wanted to go there and compete,” Erin said.
“My goal was to get top ten and I wanted to represent Clark County.”
Erin achieved her goal of making it into the top ten, but she also received first place for the evening gown category.
Erin was very nervous to compete in her first competition, but she did enjoy the experience of winning and representing her small town.
“The experience there was amazing, and all of the girls were really nice,” Erin said.
She also pointed out that each girl shared one common factor, they all were active in agriculture.
One of Erin’s favorite parts of competing at the Missouri State Fair was seeing all of her family and friends from Clark County supporting her. She also enjoyed having the opportunity to speak in front of 100 plus people at the competition.
Erin was happy to have the opportunity to participate at the Missouri State Fair and she is thankful for all that supported her and helped her along the way.
“I want to thank my parents for teaching me to never settle for anything and my siblings, for also supporting me all the way through,” Erin said.
“I want to thank Jessica Pitford for getting me out of my comfort zone and helping me have these opportunities. I also want to thank Clark County for all their prayers, text, and messages.”
Erin wants to push herself to do new things in the future and she encourages others to do so as well.
“In the last line of my speech, it says ‘As your Missouri State Fair Queen, I would tell everyone across Missouri that no matter where you come from, it is a part of who you are and that is enough. Be the realest version of yourself and always keep shining.’ So, I would say always keep shining no matter if you want to push your limits and do something crazy, or if it is your everyday job, just keep putting on your best front,” she said.
“Never settle for what you are doing. Always better yourself because you can always do more and don’t be scared to expand your limits.”
“Don’t let fear get in the way of new experiences, because it will be worth it in the end,” Erin added.