Wednesday night was quite special for Maria Hellebusch.
“I’m still floating. I still cannot believe that this just happened,” Hellebusch told The Missourian immediately following her coronation as the 2022 Washington Town & Country Fair Queen.
“I was not expecting this at all,” she said. “This is something that I grew up dreaming about.”
For only the second time in the history of the Washington Town & Country Fair Queen program, the annual contest was not held on the fairgrounds. Heavy rains forced contest organizers to move the contest and coronation to the auditorium at St. Francis Borgia High School.
Hellebusch said she didn’t mind the last-minute change in venue.
“I might be biased, but because I went to Borgia I feel like I grew up here in these hallways. This is my home. So it was special to have this happen here and I really don’t think moving it from the fairgrounds made this any less special for me or for anyone else," said Hellebusch, who graduated from Borgia in May 2021.
"The next few days at the Fair are going to be special in itself, but I think this was the perfect way and the perfect place for me to be crowned,” Hellebusch said. She now attends Missouri State University where she studies nursing.
Hellebusch, who is the daughter of Rick and Susan Hellebusch, was sponsored by the Bank of Washington. As the new Fair Queen, she received a $2,500 scholarship.
Hellebusch was selected from a field of 19 contestants, all of whom she said were equally worthy of earning the coveted Town & Country Fair Queen title in their own right.
“There were so many girls this year who really showed from day one how much they deserve to be on this stage,” Hellebusch said. “I started tonight just honestly thinking about how every single one of them would be amazing Fair Queens.”
Hellebusch takes over from reigning queen Abigail Tobben, who was crowned last August. Tobben now advances to the Missouri State Fair Queen Pageant, which gets underway next Tuesday.
Named to the queen’s court were second runner-up Lindsey Molitor, who received a $750 scholarship; first runner-up Grace Bryson, who received a $1,000 scholarship. Molitor is the daughter of Chris and July Molitor and was sponsored by the Town & Country Nursery. Bryson, who is the daughter of Caleb and Laurie Bryson, was sponsored by the Washington Hearing Center.
Miranda Yarbrough, who is the daughter of Cindy Yarbrough, received the title of Miss Congeniality, a title bestowed upon her by a vote of her fellow candidates. She receives a $500 scholarship.