As she rushes into the bustling life as a Drake University freshman, Taylor Sorrells, 18, of Macksburg, expressed gratitude for the memories made this summer as she was crowned Union County fair queen and competed against 99 other young women at the Iowa State Fair.
Sorrells, the daughter of Jeff and Diane Sorrells, said the experience was a whirlwind and something that was extra special for her family. Thirty-three years ago, her mother donned her own crown after being crowned queen in 1985 at the Union County Fair.
“I decided to run for fair queen mainly because of my mom,” said Taylor. “My mom had done it ... and I knew that it was something that was really important to her.”
Taylor said it was a great bonding experience for the pair, as her mother was “very supportive” and helped her daughter by proofreading her essay and helping her prepare to answer questions.
At the Union County Fair, Taylor said the contestants spent five minutes answering questions in front of their families and fair judges. The experience, she said, helped prepare her for the state stage, where contestants were expected to answer open-ended questions and to talk about what was great about their county fairs and what goals they hope to achieve this year.
Taylor, who has served as vice president and secretary of the 4-H Horse and Riders Club, told judges her goal this year is to host a glow barrel race at night, where participants would wear glow sticks and bracelets, to raise money for 4-H and FFA horse trophies.
At the Iowa State Fair, Taylor was asked who the most influential person in her life has been other than family members. This question stumped her.
“I just wanted to say my mom,” said Taylor.
However, she spoke about her riding coach, Lane Miller of Creston.
“I’ve grown so much as a rider from him teaching me and helping me with my horse,” said Taylor. “I’ve had my horse since it was 13 months old. He’s been helping me a lot with training her and taking me to shows and all that fun stuff.”
Diane said she was really impressed by her daughter’s composure through the competitions and credited her ability to present herself so well to being a member of 4-H and FFA.
“It really taught her a lot,” Diane said. “She really got to do a lot of public speaking, volunteering and helping out in the community through 4-H and FFA.”
Diana said when their family moved back to the area from Alabama seven years ago, the first thing she did was register Taylor for 4-H.
“I knew that was something important to me and I felt like it was something that would eventually be important to her,” said Diane. “She fell in love with it and had an awesome experience.”
The experience was particularly special for the Sorrells as Diane’s father, Wayne Hartsook, who served on the Union County Fair Board for 21 years before passing away in July, was able to watch Taylor as she made her way through the queen’s parade just one week prior.
“It was so special and it really meant a lot,” said Diane. “I knew it was going to be his last county fair.”
What it takes
At the Iowa State Fair, Taylor said the queens were judged based on personality and outstanding leadership, and there were three runners-up to the ISF queen – a highly competitive contest as there were 99 contestants competing for the four slots.
To prepare for the State Fair queen competition, Taylor had to have a professional head shot, or photograph, taken and submit a second, extensive application outlining her school activities, volunteer experience, leadership positions and she had to submit an essay.
The most challenging part of the competition for Taylor was the interview.
“It was so nerve racking,” said Taylor. “But, the judges were so nice, which made you really comfortable around them.”
Despite her best effort, Taylor did not place in the state fair contest, however, it doesn’t have her down.
“Obviously all of the girls there were deserving of being there and I think everyone there deserved the placings they received,” said Taylor.
Taylor said the best part of her experience was the camaraderie and getting to meet the different queens from the other counties and roaming the state fair with them.
Whether it’s for county or state fair, Taylor’s advice to other girls vying for the crown is to get involved with the community, both at school and in the community at large.
“Do community service events, projects and get involved in leadership through whatever club you want to be involved in. That will be a very competitive aspect of the state fair,” she said.
While building the perfect resume is important, Taylor said there was something else even more so.
“Being state fair queen means being 100 percent yourself,” said Taylor. “I think young girls should aspire to be whoever they want to be, but they should always stay true to themselves.”