Washington native Stephanie Sullentrup was overcome with emotion at being named the 2011 Washington Town and Country Fair Queen Wednesday night.
Stepping up to the microphone to give an impromptu acceptance speech, Sullentrup broke down in tears.
"I'm sorry for crying, but I'm really overwhelmed," she told the audience.
After thanking her family and sponsor for their support, Sullentrup was still very emotional.
"I sound so scared . . . ," she remarked, before turning to the other girls in the queen contest and saying, "Thank you, guys, for just everything. You are great girls, and I'm just so happy I've had this experience."
Also honored on the 2011 Queen Court were Katelyn Riegel, Washington, first runner-up, Bailey Kitchell, Concord Hill, second runner-up, and Michelle Kuchs, Washington, Miss Congeniality.
A total of 23 young ladies competed in the Fair Queen contest.
Sullentrup is no stranger to the Washington Town and Country Fair. She has attended every year of her life.
Her favorite activities have always been the rides, concerts and, of course, the queen contest. She decided to enter the contest herself this summer to be part of and experience that tradition.
"I always looked up to the queen, saw her as a role model, and I wanted to be that for other little girls," said Sullentrup. "I thought I would be a good representative for Washington, that I could represent the town well."
Sullentrup said she feels "extremely honored" to have been named Fair Queen, ". . . especially to be picked out of that group of girls.
"I was overwhelmed with emotion, the tears just fell because I was so overwhelmed."
Looking back on the last two months of activities leading up to the coronation ceremony, Sullentrup said the on-stage experience was the "highlight."
"My heart wouldn't stop racing," she remarked, "not because I won, but it just felt so good to be up there, being with all the girls."
As Fair Queen, Sullentrup said she is most looking forward to getting to see the Fair from behind the scenes and talking with all of the little girls who look up to the queen and her court.
There's also the Fair food - Sullentrup said her favorites are funnel cakes and chocolate shakes.
Sullentrup is a 2010 graduate of Washington High School and will begin her sophomore year at East Central College this fall. She is working toward a bachelor's degree in nursing and plans to have a career as a nurse practitioner.
Her parents are Kenny and Joyce Sullentrup, Washington. She was sponsored in the queen contest by Washington Fence.
First Runner-Up Katelyn Riegel was "still kind of in shock" over her new title when she spoke to The Missourian shortly after the coronation ceremony wrapped up Wednesday night.
"I feel very blessed," she said. "It's an honor, really an honor."
A fairgoer all her life, Riegel has long looked forward to the day when she could enter the Fair Queen contest.
"I watched it every year," she said, noting that she entered the contest because "I wanted to be a role model for little girls, to set an example."
Her favorite part of the last two months of activities was the Day in Washington, where all of the queen contestants were given a tour of select town sites and businesses.
"It was really awesome to go learn a lot about the history and to go to all the major places in town," said Riegel.
Now as a member of the Fair Queen court, Riegel is looking forward to eating a lot of Fair food and seeing all areas of the Fair - from the livestock to the concerts. But the best part of the Fair every year is the people, she said.
"I really love to see all the people every year. Everyone comes out to the Fair."
Riegel is a 2010 graduate of Washington High School and this fall will be a sophomore at Missouri State University in Springfield where she is studying communications. She would like to work someday in the human resources department at a hospital.
Riegel is the daughter of Mike and Lisa Riegel, Washington, and was sponsored in the queen contest by St. John's Mercy Hospital, Washington.
Second Runner-Up Bailey Kitchell said being named to the queen court was exciting.
"It's overwhelming, but it's great," she said. " . . . and to learn it took the judges so long to decide, that's great."
Kitchell has been going to the Washington Fair every year since her family moved here 11 years ago, and watching the queen contest was always how she spent the first evening.
"I would skip the bull riding for the queen contest," she said. "I love bull riding, but I always knew people in the queen contest."
Kitchell decided to enter the contest herself this year because she wanted the opportunity to see the Fair from another perspective, and the chance to win some scholarship money never hurts either, she said.
Kitchell said she's looking forward to riding all of the rides and seeing all of the people who come out to the Fair.
"Everybody's there. It's where friends meet!" she remarked.
But she's also looking forward to getting to know the Fair in a way she never has before.
"I want to get a taste of everything at the Fair . . . to see a little bit of everything. And it will be great to interact with the queen committee and the people who make the Fair great," Kitchell added.
"I hear we get free Fair food - that's a great perk!" she said, smiling. "I love the corn and the funnel cakes."
Kitchell is a 2009 graduate of Washington High School and will begin her junior year at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where she's studying journalism and classical studies in preparation for going on to law school. Her plans are to have a career as an advocacy attorney.
She is the daughter of Eric and Dawn Kitchell, Concord Hill, and was sponsored in the queen contest by the Bank of Franklin County.
Michelle Kuchs said being voted Miss Congeniality by her fellow queen contestants was exciting.
"I didn't expect it. I was a little surprised," she told The Missourian.
"It means a lot to me."
Entering the queen contest has been something Kuchs had wanted to do since she was very little. Now entering her senior year at the University of Missouri-Columbia, she decided this was the year.
"And it's been a great summer," Kuchs remarked.
Her favorite parts of the Fair have always been the tractor pull, concerts and entertainment - from the local bands to the karaoke. This year she's looking forward to getting a behind-the-scenes workings at the Fair as she tours the fairgrounds with the court.
"Now I get to see what's really going on," she said, smiling.
A 2009 graduate of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, Kuchs is studying speech/language pathology at Mizzou. Her career plans include working with stroke patients at a hospital/rehab facility and then transitioning into working in a school setting.
Kuchs is the daughter of Mary and the late David Kuchs, Washington. She was sponsored in the queen contest by Patients First Health Care LLC.
In addition to their titles, each of the girls on the queen court will receive scholarship money and a number of other gifts.
As queen, Sullentrup will receive a $2,500 scholarship; Riegel, a $1,000 scholarship; Kitchell, a $750 scholarship; and Kuchs, a $500 scholarship.
They each also receive gifts sponsored by Fricke Studio, Fischer Chiropractic, Hillermann Nursery & Florist, Missourian Publishing Company, Don Wildt Sheet Metal and Heating LLC, RE/MAX First Gold - Matt McClelland and Ginger Brinker and the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce.