Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Megan Welsh is 2012 Fairest of the Fair
Elkhorn woman credits mother for success

by Chris Schultz

September 08, 2011

ELKHORN — Megan Welsh's mom, Kris, a former Alice in Dairyland, is probably doubly proud of her daughter.

Not only was Megan, 18, of Elkhorn, named 2012 Walworth County Fairest of the Fair, but she also credited her mom with being the most influential person in her life.

During the competition Sunday at the Fair Park Stage, Welsh, a freshman at the Univeristy of Wisconsin — Milwaukee, where she is majoring in music, said her mother sparked her interest in music.

"She taught me many values," Welsh said of her mother. "She taught me to be respectful and courteous. She gave me my religious values and my personal values."

In the Walworth County Fair guide, Welsh said it was her mother who also encouraged her to compete for Fairest of the Fair.

"When I was young, she would take me to the Fairest competitions and would point out that someday I might be able to wear the crown," Welsh said. Abigail Mae Jensen, 17, of Delavan, was selected as Fair Royalty.

Welsh and Jensen will be officially crowned in June.

Contacted at her dorm room at UWM, Welsh said that as Fairest-in-training, she's learning all she can about the Walworth County Fair, so she's ready to take on her duties in June. Welsh said that with eight hopefuls vying for the Fairest crown this year, the competition was tough. She said her mother's experience as an Alice in Dairyland probably also helped.

She said her mother gave her advice, such as always smile, look at the judges and speak clearly. Just so he doesn't feel left out, Welsh's dad, Dave, escorted her to the stage during the competition.

Welsh and Jensen were selected from a field of eight, competing for next year's title.

In addition to the privilege of representing the Walworth County Fair next year, Welsh won a $1,000 scholarship.

This year's Fairest, Hannah Eucker, of Elkhorn, will compete for Wisconsin State Fair's Fairest of the Fairs in January.

Also competing in this year's Walworth County Fairest contest were Kaila Babiak, 16, of Pell Lake, daughter of Robert and Hannah Babiak; Emma Jones, 17, of Genoa City, daughter of John and Sandy Jones; Amanda McKeen, 17, of Burlington, daughter of Sean and Karen McKeen; Sait Standal, 19, of Elkhorn, daughter of Mike and Caryn Standal; Rachel Duncan, 17, of Sharon, daughter of Donna and Jerry Duncan; and Samantha Simen, 21, of Burlington, daughter of Dawn Simen.

Samantha Simen is this year's Fair Royalty.

Named as this year's Future Fairest of the Fair is Kylye Kundart, 5, of Bloomfield.

Eucker passed the crown and sash to Welsh at the end of the Fairest competition, although she remained Fairest through the end of the 2011 fair.

Last year was a transition year for the Fairest contest.

Faced with lagging interest in the competition, the Walworth County Fair Board increased the scholarship amount and then decided to change when the new Fairests would reign.

In the past, the Fairest of each year's fair was selected on the first day of the Fair and then reigned for that year's fair.

Starting this year, each Fairest will be chosen for the following year's fair.

Karen Schlichter, of Elkhorn, was named Fairest of the Fair last year under the old rules, with Eucker selected as 2010 royalty, to succeed as Fairest for this year.

Although her reign was short, Schlichter received another honor this year, named as recipient of the Friend of the Fairest Award by Eucker.

This year's field of eight contestants was a far cry from 2009, when just two contestants took the stage.

After that limited contest in 2009, the fair took steps to make the contest more appealing, said Sue Pruessing, fair marketing and public relations manager.

She said the contestants like the change because now they have a year to decide on clothes and prepare for the duties of Fairest.

"That just took the anxiety out of it for the girls," Pruessing said.

In a continuation from last year, the contestants were given a theme and created baskets to represent those themes. The baskets were then auctioned off during the contest, by auctioneer Gary Finley of Walworth.

All told, the eight baskets brought in $1,570 for the fair. Samantha Simen's basket, "Fishing Fun," went for the highest bid, at $325.

Among the items in the basket, actually a fishing tackle box, were real fishing tackle, gummy worms, a fishing hat, cupcakes for snacks and two tickets to a Brewers game

Welsh's basket, "Dairy Delight," contained a variety of gourmet cheeses, cream sodas and a dairy themed coloring book and cook book. It was auctioned off for $210.

Jensen's basket, "Safari," which contained a leopard print apron and leopard print pillow, soaps and a gift card to Dancing Horses in Delavan, sold for $185.