2021 fair queen and her court

The 2021 Washington Town & Country Fair Queen and her court were crowned Aug. 4 on the Pepsi Main Stage. Standing, from left, are Lyllian Neuberger, miss congeniality, sponsored by Marquart's Landing; Abigail Tobben, queen, sponsored by Bank of Franklin County; Britney Harriman, first runner-up, sponsored by Cinema 1 Plus; and Aubrie Moreland, second runner-up, sponsored by Taco Bell.

For the first time in nearly two years, a new queen will reign over the Washington Town & Country Fair. 

Abigail Tobben, of Washington, was crowned queen of the 91st fair during the opening night of the five-day fair on Wednesday. She takes over the ceremonial duties from Rachel Licklider, who was crowned in 2019 and continued as fair queen in 2020 after much of the fair was scrapped last year due to the pandemic. 

Licklider, who will represent the Town & Country Fair in the Miss Missouri State Fair pageant next Thursday, wishes the new queen well in her role. 

“I am so excited for (Abigail) to be able to experience the fair as queen,” Licklider said. “The fair is never going to be the same for (her), and that is what it’s all about for me. Knowing all of the fun memories that she is going to make and experience with the other members of court is just so exciting.”

Tobben is the daughter of James and Jennifer Tobben and the granddaughter of George and the late Mary Emke and Herb and the late Sharon Tobben. She said she was shocked when Master of Ceremonies George Meyer read her name as the one the three-person judges panel had selected to be queen. 

“I can honestly tell you that I was completely speechless. I am so honored to be the queen of the fair. This is just an amazing experience,” said Tobben, a 2019 Washington High School graduate. She received a $2,500 scholarship along with her title. Her tiara, which measured 4.5 inches tall, was provided by RE/MAX Today Realty — The McLelland Team and the Washington Area Chamber of Commerce. Her bouquet of roses was provided by Hillermann Nursery & Florist. She was sponsored by the Bank of Franklin County.

“I’ve always dreamed of this day, but to be honest, I never thought it was going to be me,” Tobben said. She recalled being a child watching and hoping to catch a glimpse of the queen being crowned, and said the 6-year-old version of herself is likely “jumping up and down right now.” 

Tobben shimmered onstage as she wore a mermaid-style navy blue evening gown and wore a black onyx gemstone ring that once belonged to her late grandmother Mary.

“My grandma died two years ago,” said Tobben. “When I see this ring, I think that she has actually been with me through this whole experience. ... I think she’d be so happy for me right now.” 

Although she has experienced the fair as a livestock exhibitor during the swine show, as a devout fan of the of the pro-stock tractor pull, as a former member of the junior fair board and a volunteer fair photographer, Tobben said she is looking forward to experiencing the fair from this once-in-a-lifetime vantage point. 

“I actually love the tractor pull, so people will likely see me down in the motorsports pit a lot,” Tobben said. “I just love the agricultural aspects of the fair.”

Tobben, who works at MFA Cooperative and on her family’s farm, said she enjoys feeding the cattle, working on fences, driving a tractor and baling hay. She plans to study agricultural systems technology at the University of Missouri-Columbia this fall after graduating from East Central College with an associate degree this spring.  

Tobben joins a long list of Washington Town & Country Fair queens, including 1956 Fair Queen Vera Taylor, Tobben’s great aunt. 

While she serves as a face of the fair, Tobben hopes she inspires other young girls to one day vie for the crown. 

“I always say, ‘Shoot for the stars,’ ” Tobben said. “If you want to go for it, go for it. You may make a fool of yourself, or you may just make the best memories of your life and meet some incredible people all at the same time.” 

Tobben’s reaction was shared by other members of the 2021 Town & Country Fair Queen court, who thanked their families, expressed their appreciation to the queen contest planning committee and offered words of encouragement to young girls who aspire to be fair queens someday.

“I remember 7-year-old me just watching the queens going around the fairgrounds. They were my inspiration then, and I hope to be some girl’s inspiration now,” said second runner-up Aubrie Moreland, who received a $750 scholarship following the coronation ceremony. Moreland is the daughter of Brent and Tracy Moreland and was sponsored by Taco Bell.

Moreland graduated from Washington High School in 2021 and plans to study physical therapy at Maryville University of St. Louis. A former competitive swimmer, Moreland hopes to combine swimming and physical therapy coursework to someday “help children of all abilities strengthen their bodies and reach their goals.”

First runner-up Britney Harriman, a 2019 Borgia High School graduate, received a $1,000 scholarship. She described being a contestant as “the experience of a lifetime.” 

“I have met so many amazing girls, and I had so much fun just going to the activities throughout the summer. I 100 percent would do it again,” said Harriman, who is the daughter of Mark and Nicki Harriman and was sponsored by Cinema 1 Plus. She attends South University, where she studies business administration. Harriman also serves as a specialist in the U.S. Army Reserves, where she has completed her certification to be a radio operator and to offer medical aid to individuals injured in combat. She aspires to one day be promoted to sergeant and later warrant officer. 

She also works at Planet Fitness as a member service representative.

Lyllian Neuberger, who is the daughter of Nick and Jodee Neuberger, received the title of Miss Congeniality, a title bestowed upon her by a vote of her fellow candidates, and a $500 scholarship. Neuberger is currently studying health sciences at MU, where she hopes to later attend medical school, with a goal of becoming a pediatric oncology physician.  

Tobben also was recognized as the queen candidate who had helped sell the most season tickets for this year’s fair — more than $16,000 in total. She received a $500 cash prize for her work in selling tickets. 

Also honored for ticket sales was Harriman, who reported more than $14,900 in ticket sales, and Alexa Bell, who sold more than $14,500 in ticket sales. Harriman and Bell both received cash prizes with Harriman receiving $300 and Bell receiving $200.