Wearing a mermaid-style dress with a beaded and metallic design that highlighted her auburn hair color, Rachel Licklider, 19, of St. Clair, was crowned queen of the 2019 Washington Town & Country Fair Wednesday evening, Aug. 7, at the fairgrounds.
She thanked the Fair Queen committee, her family, her sponsor, Show Me Soils, and God, “for this opportunity and putting the right people in the right place for me to get to this point.”
Joining Licklider on the court are Mackayla Klekamp, Washington, first runner-up; Brea Hindersmann, Dutzow, second runner-up; and Kailey Robinson, Washington, as Miss Congeniality.
A total of 21 young ladies participated in this year’s contest.
Compared to others on the court, Licklider is a newcomer to the Washington Town & Country Fair. She only moved to the area in sixth grade. After hearing friends talk about the Fair, she began begging her parents to bring her. When it finally worked out, Licklider said she was overjoyed.
“I fell in love instantly, and I was so excited to go back every year. It was non-negotiable,” she said.
From her first Fair, Licklider has always made a point of watching the queen contest on opening night.
“I had to get there when it started, because I wanted to see everyone,” she remarked.
From the queen contest, she would head down to watch the bull riding.
Licklider decided to enter the contest herself this year after being encouraged by her choir teacher.
“I decided it was something I wanted to do for the experience and just having fun with it and being even more embedded into the Fair than I already was,” said Licklider.
In her interview with the judges Wednesday morning, Licklider spoke about her service as a board member for Missouri Leadership Seminar, which is held on the University of Central Missouri campus in Warrensburg every year.
“I attended as an ambassador the summer between sophomore and junior year, and I fell in love with it,” she said. “I’ve come back every year as a facilitator to help put it on for the upcoming ambassadors.”
Looking ahead to the next few days touring the fairgrounds, Licklider said she’s most excited just to be able to mingle and meet new people.
“I’m excited to meet the people of Washington and everyone who is coming out to the Fair. I absolutely love being with different people and being able to serve,” she said. “I’m very excited to be able to be around all of the children and to grow from this experience.”
A 2018 graduate of St. Clair High School, Licklider will begin her second year at East Central College, where she is studying early childhood education. Her goal is to become a kindergarten teacher.
She is the daughter of Craig and Carolyn Licklider, St. Clair, and was sponsored in the queen contest by Show Me Soils, a septic system company in St. Clair.
For Mackayla Klekamp, 18, who has been attending the Washington Town & Country Fair her entire life, the queen contest has always been one of her favorite events.
“I aspired to be like them,” she said of watching the candidates on stage.
Klekamp didn’t have to look far for advice on competing in the contest this year. Her mom, Shari (Young) Klekamp, was the 1984 Fair Queen.
“She said don’t worry about winning, just soak in the experience, and that’s really what I did, so tonight this is just the icing on the cake,” Klekamp said.
“I’m excited to be following in my mom’s footsteps. She was Fair Queen, so I’m one step down . . . but it’s kind of cool to carry on the tradition.”
Next year, Klekamp’s fraternal twin sister may take a turn in the contest. She said they didn’t want to enter the same year so that they wouldn’t have to compete against each other.
Hearing her name called as first runner-up came as a shock, said Klekamp, who volunteers with All Abilities Athletics and Mercy Hospital Washington, and worked as a counselor at Camp Washington.
“I was shaking up on stage when they said my name. I didn’t expect it at all,” she said. “It’s going to be a long week, but it’s going to be one of the funnest weeks ever.”
She’s looking forward to being shuttled around the fairgrounds in a golf cart and getting to experience the Fair from a new perspective.
Klekamp, the daughter of Larry and Shari Klekamp, Washington, is a 2019 graduate of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School. She will attend Maryville University this fall to study psychiatric/mental health nursing.
She was sponsored in the Fair Queen contest by Jim Brinker Recycling.
Second Runner-Up Brea Hindersmann, 18, has been going to the Fair since her family moved to the area in 2010. As a member of 4-H, she entered many of her projects in the home ec contest at the Fair and won several Best of Show awards for her cake decorating.
Entering the queen contest, however, wasn’t something she normally would do.
“A year ago I never would have thought I could do this,” said Hindersmann. “I was always a really shy girl, but my brother’s girlfriend did it,” and . . . that made it easier for her to see herself doing it too.
In her interview with the judges, she spoke about her 600 hours of community service, including 400 hours volunteering on the labor and delivery unit at Mercy Hospital Washington, where she helps by feeding the babies, giving them baths and answering the phone and call light from patients.
Last year, Hindersmann and her mother made a mission trip to Guatemala in service to the Shadow of His Wings Orphanage.
“We played with the kids, took food to the families and prayed with local pastors,” she said, noting she never felt unsafe during the trip. “Just knowing we were there doing something good was all the comfort I needed.”
As a member of the Fair Queen court, Hindersmann said she is most looking forward to competing in the pig scramble.
The daughter of Doug and Tonya Hindersmann, Dutzow, Hindersmann is a 2019 graduate of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School and will be a student at Central Methodist University this fall.
She expects to graduate in three years with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Her goal is to work in a trauma unit or surgery center at a Level One trauma center.
Hindersmann was sponsored by Augusta Winery.
Miss Congeniality Kailey Robinson, 19, is no stranger to the Washington Town & Country Fair.
As a member of Go Hog Wild 4-H, she showed hogs at the Fair for 10 years, and in 2007 she won the Open Class Grand Champion. She also volunteered at the Fair with her church, Immanuel Lutheran, and in general was on the fairgrounds quite often, since her father, Andy, served on the Fair Board for nine years and has long been a Fair assistant.
For five years, Robinson also worked at the fairgrounds with the Washington Police Explorers from 2014 to 2019.
Every year, however, she watched the queen contest and looked up to the young ladies on stage.
“I remember when Kasey Wood won (in 2012) and her big yellow dress,” said Robinson, smiling. “That is my favorite Fair moment; I always looked up to her.”
Being named Miss Congeniality by her fellow queen contestants was an equally special moment for Robinson.
“I’m so thankful, and so surprised . . . I was just really shocked when they said my name, but I’m so thankful and it’s an honor that they thought of me,” she said.
As much time as Robinson has spent at the Fair over the years and in so many different facets, she is looking forward to seeing the Fair through new eyes as a member of the queen court.
“I’m looking forward to getting to meet all the Fairgoers, from the little kids to the adults,” she said, “and doing the pig chase.
“I showed pigs, so we’ll see if I can do this,” she added with a laugh.
Of course, she’s also looking forward to all the free Fair food the queen court has access to, although picking a favorite is difficult.
“That might be the waffle ice cream, because that’s something I can only get at the Fair,” said Robinson. “But an underrated food at the Fair that is never sold is the breakfast made by the livestock committee (for the lifestock exhibitors) at 5:30 a.m. That is a hidden gem of the Fair.”
Robinson, who has an identical twin sister, is the daughter of Shannan and Andy Robinson, Washington. A 2018 graduate of Washington High School, she is enrolled at Missouri State University where she is studying elementary education.
The 2019 Fair Queen and her court will each receive scholarships.
As Fair Queen, Licklider will receive a $2,500 scholarship and numerous other gifts from area businesses. Klekamp will receive $1,000; Hindersmann, $750; and Robinson, $500.
The 2019 Fair Queen and her court can be seen touring the fairgrounds through Sunday evening.