As the 20th and final contestant to step onto the stage at the grandstand, Jessica Blevins lined up next to the other girls.
After Miss Congeniality, second runner-up and first runner-up were announced, it was time for the crowning moment.
“The 2019 Jackson County Fair queen is…” That’s when Blevins heard her name called by emcee Blake Hackman.
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“I couldn’t believe it,” the 18-year-old Seymour resident said. “I was not expecting them to say my name, and then they did, and I didn’t even know what to do. I didn’t know where to go on the stage or anything. I was just so happy. I couldn’t be any happier.”
It was even more special for the 2019 Seymour High School graduate because her mother, Jane Blevins, earned the crown in 1973. Jane and her husband, Ryan, were among family members there to see Jessica be crowned the 63rd fair queen.
“She never said, ‘Oh, you have to do it.’ She just spoke so highly of the pageant and how much she got out of it,” Jessica said of her mother.
Wearing the crown, sash and cloak and holding flowers and a trophy herself is a moment Jessica will remember for a long time.
“Oh, I can’t even put it into words. Probably tomorrow I still will wake up and be like, ‘Did that actually happen?'” she said, smiling.
“I just couldn’t be more proud of my county, and I say that, and I really mean it. I really love where I live. I love this fair,” she said. “I’ve been so involved with the county fair, and I’m really proud of my county and my county fair, and I just wanted to be able to represent it.”
The queen court also includes first runner-up Sophie Kreis of Tampico; second runner-up Cassidy Isaacs of Brownstown; and Olivia Barlow of Brownstown.
The competition consisted of interviews with the three judges Sunday afternoon, and then all 20 girls modeled professional wear and formal wear during the pageant that night. The formal wear portion involved them introducing themselves and their sponsor.
As the 16th contestant walked on the runway toward the stage, a thunderstorm rolled through, causing the competition to be delayed. When it resumed, the final four contestants remained under the covered stage to model their formal wear.
After the judges tallied their votes, all 20 girls lined up onstage to hear the results.
Jessica said it was great being a part of the pageant for the first time. She was sponsored by the Pine Ridge Extension Homemakers Club.
“The whole group of contestants was really amazing, and I made a lot of new friends,” she said. “I didn’t know a lot of the girls very personally beforehand, but it really was a great group of girls.”
Jane said when she competed in the pageant in 1973, it consisted of a speech and swimsuit and formal wear modeling. She said she gave her daughter some advice, and Jessica also sought advice from others, including her FFA adviser.
“I am so thrilled and so proud of her. Words can’t even describe how I feel. I’m just very proud. She has worked extremely hard,” Jane said. “She’s just very passionate about the fair and its mission to get people together to further the agricultural and civic causes of Jackson County.”
Ryan is happy for his daughter, too.
“I’m just tickled to death for her. It’s awesome,” he said. “She has worked real hard for it.”
Along with her queen duties at this year’s fair, Jessica is a 10-year 4-H’er, so she’s involved in the Fashion Revue and horse show and also has several projects in the 4-H building.
“I’ve just learned so much that you can’t learn inside of a classroom — life skills like sewing, upcycling furniture, even how to be a leader in my club,” she said. “I always encourage anyone to join 4-H who I talk to. It has made a very significant impact on me. I would not be anywhere the speaker or even just the person I am without 4-H.”
Jessica also was involved in FFA at Seymour High School, and that organization has its own building at the fairgrounds.
“I think we have a high level of every single aspect of the fair,” she said. “The 4-H, the FFA, we have a great midway and just the community, the lawn chair row, there’s nothing better than that. It’s the people working in the booths, the attendees, everyone. It really is the people.”
On the first day of the fair each year, Jessica said she gets a big tenderloin sandwich from the Sauers or Immanuel booth.
As far as rides, she said her favorite is the Ferris wheel so she can see the nearby lake.
This week, she is excited to enjoy all aspects of the fair and see them from a different angle with her court.
“I think we’re going to have an amazing time this week,” Jessica said. “It will make me be able to promote the fair even more. I always speak very highly of the fair, and I think that will really give me a new appreciation for everyone who puts something into it.”
Kreis, a 2018 Brownstown Central High School graduate who is a sophomore at Indiana University studying elementary education, said she’s looking forward to this week, too.
“I’m really good friends with Cassidy. We went to school together forever,” she said. “Then Jessica and I competed in 4-H for 10 years, and Olivia, she’s so funny, she’s so sweet, so I’m really excited.”
Having attended the fair queen pageant over the years, Kreis said it has always been a dream of hers to compete, so it was surreal being a part of it for the first time.
“This experience really meant a lot to me because I not only got to meet and become better friends with a lot of girls that I usually woudn’t have the opportunity to, but I also got to realize how many people supported me,” Kreis said. “I would have people come through the bank and tell me good luck, and all of my friends and my family, they are always so supportive, and it was just really cool to see that.”
After the county fair ends Saturday, Jessica will turn her attention to preparing for the Indiana State Fair queen pageant in January, where she will compete against other fair queens from around the state.
“I would really like to refine my interview skills,” she said. “Of course, you can always improve in every aspect, but I feel a lot more comfortable with the modeling than the interview. Just refining that and really being comfortable representing this great county.”
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2019 Jackson County Fair queen court
Queen: Jessica Blevins of Seymour
First runner-up: Sophie Kreis of Tampico
Second runner-up: Cassidy Isaacs of Brownstown
Miss Congeniality: Olivia Barlow of Brownstown
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Name: Jessica Blevins
Education: Seymour High School (2019)
Recent honor: Named 2019 Jackson County Fair queen
Future plans: Attend Indiana University and double major in accounting and finance in the Kelley School of Business Honors Program
Family: Parents, Ryan and Jane Blevins
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“I always speak very highly of the fair, and I think that will really give me a new appreciation for everyone who puts something into it.”
Jessica Blevins, 18, of Seymour of serving as the 2019 Jackson County Fair queen with her court this week