When it comes to “Making Memories” at the Washington Town and Country Fair, 19-year-old Kasey Jane Wood, Washington, experienced her most memorable night yet Wednesday, Aug. 1, when she was crowned 2012 Fair Queen.

Wearing a light yellow gown and with her long, brown hair pinned to the side, Wood told the audience she felt both surprised and blessed by the experience.

“Oh, my goodness. I was not expecting this at all. Thank you so much,” she said from the podium. “I’m just so blessed to live in such a fantastic community.

“And I’m just so thankful for my family, my sponsor, Brinker Promotions, the wonderful fair board, Jesus Christ, thank you so much. This is such a blessing. I’m just so happy right now.”

Rounding out the 2012 Fair Queen court are Alex Hoberock, first runner-up, and Erin Bridgeman, second runner-up, both of Washington, and Erin Howard, Labadie, Miss Congeniality.

A total of 25 young ladies from across Franklin County competed for the title of Fair Queen.

Fair Queen

From the time she was a little girl, all of Wood’s memories of the Washington Town and Country Fair include the queen contest. She sat in the audience, enraptured by the beauty, grace and poise of the contestants.

This year, she decided it was her turn to be on stage.

“For as long as I can remember, I was that little girl in the audience watching,” said Wood. “And I was always the first one out of my seat to meet her . . . she was such a role model, and now I get to be that role model.”

Wood kept her composure on stage after hearing her name announced as the 2012 Fair Queen, but she said it came as a surprise.

“It’s such a great group of girls in it this year, it could have been any one of us,” Wood told The Missourian late Wednesday night at Fricke Studio in Downtown Washington where she and her fellow court members were having their photos taken to hang in the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce office until next year’s fair.

Looking back over the last two months of activities leading up to the coronation ceremony, Wood said her favorite was the scavenger hunt they did as part of the Day in Washington with singing at area nursing homes a close second.

A new activity, the scavenger hunt was a good way for the girls to interact and get to know each other, said Wood, noting she and her fellow hunt-mates Megan Reidy and Shannon Piontek then entered the Washington Historical Society’s scavenger hunt and won.

They donated their $100 prize back to the Washington Historical Society.

Looking ahead to her days touring the fairgrounds, Wood joked that she’s “really excited to ride in that golf cart” that the Fair Queen and her court get to ride so they can make it to event after event fast.

“I’m excited to attend all of the events, really,” said Wood, “to meet all of the little girls, to go to the concerts, to be a representative for the Washington Town and Country Fair.”

Wood, who thanked the judges before leaving the fairgrounds, was quick to express her gratitude to a wider audience, not just for being named Fair Queen, but for the atmosphere she was able to grow up in.

“I want to thank the community and the Fair Board for the opportunity to grow up in such a great, volunteer-centered community,” she remarked.

A 2011 graduate of Washington High School, Wood is the daughter of Frank and Kelly Wood, Washington. This fall she will be a sophomore at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, working toward a bachelor’s degree in nursing with an emphasis in nutrition.

Her goal is first to work as a traveling nurse and later as a nurse practitioner.

Wood was sponsored in the queen contest by Brinker Promotions.

First Runner-Up

First Runner-Up Alex Hoberock, 19, is no stranger to the Washington Town and Country Fair. The daughter of a longtime fair board member, Greg Hoberock, she spent many a summer day and night at the fairgrounds.

“The Fair has always been a big part of me. I felt like I didn’t just have two parents, I had 20,” she said, referring to all of the fair board members.

“I remember painting the (old) stage... putting bolts in the new bleachers at the motor sports arena... getting pulled over by a cop on a gator and told to go get coffee for the fair board members who were working on the stage.”

Even with years’ worth of funny Fair memories, Hoberock said they all take a back seat now to her experience in the queen contest.

“This is definitely the best memory,” she said, noting she also really enjoyed the sponsor barbecue held earlier this summer because she got to “hang out” with her dad, whose business, hth companies inc., was her sponsor.

Now, as a member of the Queen Court, Hoberock’s looking forward to experiencing the fair from behind the scenes, like she did when she was a little girl.

“It’s been about eight years since my dad’s been off the Fair board, so I’m anxious to see the ins and outs again, to see what all has changed.”

Hoberock’s also excited about being in the front row at all of the concerts, especially Jake Owen and Jerrod Niemann, and having access to all of the Fair food.

“I’m a chicken strip and cheese fries kind of girl,” she said, with a smile.

A 2011 graduate of Washington High School and the daughter of Barb Hoberock, Hoberock will be a sophomore this fall at the University of Missouri-Columbia where she majors in accounting.

Her future plans include law school and having a career as an employment attorney, ideally working for her dad’s company.

Second Runner-Up

Like Wood, Second runner-Up Erin Bridgeman, 19, grew up watching the annual Fair Queen contest, dreaming of the day she could walk across the stage.

“I always wanted to be one of them on stage, like a princess with her crown,” she said.

Now having participated in the contest which began June 5 with a variety of group activities leading up to coronation Wednesday night, Bridgeman said the real fun of the Fair Queen contest is so much more than the on-stage ceremony.

“It’s more about being with all of the people,” she said, adding, “I wouldn’t have been disappointed if I didn’t win anything tonight.

“We were definitely a sisterhood,” she said. “New friendships were developed.”

Bridgeman and her family are making the most of the 2012 Fair by entering a number of contests together. They will compete as a team in the outhouse races and Bridgeman’s sister, Emily, is registered to compete in the egg drop.

Her parents tried their hand at the backseat driving contest Wednesday evening, but were shut out.

Of all the things she’ll get to do as a member of the queen court, Bridgeman said she’s most looking forward to attending the REO Speedwagon concert and making a cameo at the different children’s contests, like the greased pig.

“I have a previous third-place greased pig award from the Warren County Fair,” she said, proudly.

Bridgeman encourages all young ladies who have the chance to enter the queen contest to do so.

“Everybody should do it,” she remarked. “It’s an experience of lasting friendships. The whole ‘Making Memories’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

A 2011 graduate of Washington High School, Bridgeman is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Bridgeman Jr., Washington. She will be a sophomore at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg where she’s studying tourism and fashion merchandising. Her goal is to work as a small event planner.

Bridgeman was sponsored in the Fair Queen contest by Lighthouse Dental.

Miss Congeniality

Erin Howard said the honor of being named Miss Congeniality by her fellow queen candidates came as a shock.

“It was crazy!” she told The Missourian. “I didn’t expect it at all, but it was awesome.”

Howard, a 2011 graduate of St. Francis Borgia Regional High School, said she already knew some of the other girls from school and the contest “was a great experience to get to know everyone more.”

She described the group of 25 candidates as a tight bunch, getting together on their own for group activities like pool parties.

Howard entered the queen contest because she had always heard what a neat experience it was, and it lived up to all of her expectations.

Her most memorable moment, aside from being named Miss Congeniality, was selling Fair tickets.

“It taught me a lot about persistence,” she said, noting she also really enjoyed the Day in Washington.

Like her fellow court members, Howard is looking forward to the concerts and fair food, particularly Dippin’ Dots and funnel cakes.

This fall, Howard will be a sophomore at Concordia University-Wisconsin, where she’s studying to be an occupational therapist.

She is the daughter of Dan and Beth Howard, Labadie, and her sponsor was Halcyon Spa.

Scholarships, Gifts

In addition to their titles, each of the girls on the queen court will receive scholarship money and the queen will receive numerous other gifts.

As queen, Wood will receive a $2,500 scholarship; Hoberock, a $1,000 scholarship; Bridgeman, a $750 scholarship; and Howard, a $500 scholarship.

The 2012 Fair Queen and Court can be seen touring the fairgrounds through Sunday evening.