Queen’s Court 2003 - 2007: Front row: Mildred Mendenhall, Doris Howard. Back row: Eunice Neumeyer, Irene Rice, Gae Denning. Not pictured: Fairest of the Fair 2008: Florence Carey.
One of the more unique events that sets the Boundary County Fair apart from other county fairs is the Fairest of the Fair, an event that celebrates and honors some of the amazing women who live in our community. Now in its seventh year, the Fairest of the Fair is not a competition or a beauty contest but is intended to recognize the incredible women who “make a special effort in everything they do and make us complete with their dedication, love and care.”
Fairest of the Fair was originally created by Judith Regehr, leader of the Friends of the Fair, as a way to recognize the women who may not enter the fair contests and competitions but seem to be omnipresent at each fair, working behind the scenes to help their children, grandchildren or neighbors with fair activities.
“Fairest of the Fair came about because, in my opinion, the fair is such a community event and we wanted to recognize the unsung heroes in our community, who work so hard behind the scenes to make the fair happen,” said Judith. “So many people love to be involved in the fair, and in my opinion, the fair is the biggest community event we have all year in Boundary County. I wanted to try to give people opportunities to participate in the fair whether they grow, sew, raise steers or not.”
This determination to honor what Judith called “the unsung heroes out there doing wonderful things” led to the establishment of Fairest of the Fair. Judith emphasized that all of the women who have been selected have been well-established in the community for many years. Selections are made by the committee based on service or influence within the county, not at all on political or financial influence.
“These ladies are chosen because they have touched people and have been an example,” commented Judith.
For example, Florence Carey, last year’s Fairest of the Fair, was nominated by her daughters Gayle Alexander and Cathy Wills. In their letter of nomination, they wrote of their mother, “She has a heart of gold and is an inspiration to all she meets. We have become the people we are today because of her love and support. She always puts everyone else first and that is why we want to bestow this honor on her. She makes us feel special every day. Mom is amazing, so special and will always be our “Fairest of the Fair.” We love her and are so proud of her.”
Similar sentiments were expressed by Glenda Poston who nominated Doris Howard in 2007. In her letter of nomination, Glenda wrote, “I cannot remember a fair without Doris being there. She would show up in the flower department with a watering can in hand, ready for any task you passed her way. She was always one of the first ones there and one of the last to leave. Doris helped out with the “Pumpkin Seed spitting contest.” She was the oldest one to participate and won her division. Doris has also volunteered for many years serving this county on the Restorium Board of Directors. She is truly one of the jewels of Boundary County and a dedicated volunteer to the fair.”
The admiration between generations was evident in Gae Denning’s 2006 nomination by her granddaughter, Briana Denning. Breanna wrote, “I think my grandma should be honored as “Fairest of the Fair”. One reason is how sweet, compassionate and kind she is. My grandma is loved and admired by everyone she knows. Another reason is my grandma has been a hard worker all her life, not only being a good wife and mother of four, but in the community. For example, my grandma has volunteered in the Boundary County Fair booths for years and volunteered being in charge of the booths for four years. She has also been a Cub Master for the Scouts for six years and has been involved in 4-H and other organizations for many years.”
Each of the Queens had similar nomination letters written on her behalf, extolling her virtues as a lady deserving of recognition for her generously unselfish actions on behalf of the community.
The nominees, their nominator and the selection panel meet before the fair for a celebratory brunch at Chic -N-Chop. The Fairest of the Fair is crowned during opening ceremonies and receives a crown, a sash, flowers and a gift basket sponsored by local merchants. She rides in the fair parade in a convertible to much applause from the crowd.
After her tenure as Fairest of the Fair, she will continue to be honored as part of the Queen’s Court, an assemblage of the ladies who have been honored as Fairest of the Fair in years past. “After all,” Judith chuckled, “Once a Queen, Always a Queen.” Several times during the year, the Queens meet for lunch to touch base and stay connected. At each year’s fair, they ride on the Queen’s float wearing their crowns and sashes and enjoy throwing candy to the youngsters along the parade route.
Currently, the Queen’s court is comprised of Irene Rice, crowned in 2003, Eunice Neumeyer, crowned in 2004, Mildred Mendenhall, crowned in 2005, Gae Denning, crowned in 2006, Doris Howard, crowned in 2007 and Florence Carey, last year’s Fairest of the Fair.
Judith emphasized that anybody can be nominated; there is no upper age limit for the nomination process.
“We want to recognize people who are not the “enterers” but are the strength behind the scene,” Judith emphasized. “They have been nominated because they are people who are active in the community but stay behind the scenes and contribute. They truly are the” heart of the family.”
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