Editor’s note — This is the farewell speech from outgoing Highland County Fair queen Hannah Hopkins. The contest to select the new fair queen starts at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Multipurpose Building at the fairgrounds in Hillsboro. This year’s fair runs Sept. 4-10.
The first fair I vividly remember going to was when I was 6 years old. Of course, I had always gone the years prior, too, but this was the first time the memories stuck with me rather than just in pictures. I had my boots on with my cutest pair of wranglers, a hoodie, and my hair curled. We headed to the fairgrounds!
Nothing was quite like the feeling of the sticky admission stamp and the cool breeze that always made my cheeks bright red. We would walk through the barns, visit with friends and family, and, of course, enjoy the wonders of fair food. But what I remember most were the tractor pulls. It seemed like the entire town came out of the woodwork to crowd on the hillside and cover their ears while watching the many tractors give it their go. But no matter how cold, loud, or crowded, without fail there were people still filing in no matter where you turned.
That’s what I’ve always loved about the fair — the sense of community and family that surrounds you. No matter where you are within those gates, you can always find a familiar face.
It was the years leading up to the 2021 fair that made me decide to run for royalty. Well, that and my best friend, who served as the 2020 Jr. Fair queen, gave me no other choice in the matter. I wanted to give back to the community that has given me so much throughout my life. I wanted to represent the fair I grew up in to show that I was proud of my town and the wonderful people who reside in it. I knew that I wanted to influence others and play my part in making the next fair one to remember just as all those people had done for me.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad to be writing this letter; however; in another sense I am also excited. I am excited for the years to come and for the next generation to make this fair their own. It warms my heart to see so many kids show and see their potential grow as they progress. Especially coming from the year before it was so refreshing to be a part of a normal fair and to once again see that hillside filled with people. Even though I will always remember the 2021 fair as queen, I cannot wait to return in the future to see the amazing new people that will grow up on those grounds just as I did and to see the many kids that will make the same memories I did.
As I close out my year, I want to thank everyone that makes the fair possible, especially this past one. Everyone was always so quick to lend a helping hand, and was so kind to anyone they met. I feel so incredibly blessed to have spent the 2021 fair in the company of some of the most benevolent people that I know, and to have met so many more.
Even though I will be leaving to attend college in the fall, I am reminded that I do not have to wait until the fair to feel the sense of community and family that I love so dearly. I know that I can always come home to the most amazing people and be accepted and loved for what I am. No matter where I go or who I become, I will never forget the many people who have given me so many memories, nor will I ever not look forward to the week of the Highland County Fair.
2021 Highland County
Jr. Fair Queen