Girls with goals

Fair queen contestants hope to be role models

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— Hallie Shiner of Toponas and Amanda Sumerlin of Hayden completed the last event needed for the Routt County Fair queen title Tuesday at the Hayden fairgrounds. But the two girls will have to wait until Sunday to find out who will be queen.

"We're such good friends it's hard to be all-out competitive," Sumerlin said.

Shiner and Sumerlin said they are hoping they can convince the judges to allow them to work as a team and have one fair queen and one attendant.

"We really work well together," Shiner said.

The girl who becomes fair queen has the best cumulative score in three events that include a speech, interview and riding competition. The maximum score is 100 points.

The riding competition holds the most weight in the competition, comprising 65 points. During the riding competition, the rider must complete two patterns in the arena and is expected to keep her horse at the same speed and cue her horse to change leads when specified in the pattern.

Training for the patterns requires "getting things slow and correct than speeding it up," Shiner said.

She said a girl's horse is inseparable from her role as the fair queen. The many parades and rodeos a fair queen attends makes having a horse mandatory.

"Without a horse you're bare," Sumerlin said.

Both Sumerlin and Shiner said they think they will be able to use their status as fair queen to make a difference by representing Routt County in nearby areas.

The goals of a fair queen include promoting agriculture and being a role model to younger kids.

"It'll be awesome representing Routt County and getting the community involved," Shiner said.

Both girls said they have been thinking about being the fair queen "ever since they were little."

The girls said the coronation is on their minds but they are mostly excited for each other.

The team attitude of Shiner and Sumerlin is similar to many other Routt County fair participants.

During the 4-H horse show and riding classes Tuesday, participants showed their support for each other.

"I think it seems less competitive. I see kids applauding each other," parent Kevin Kvols said.

Kvols said his son, Jason, placed in every event he participated in except for the trail riding.

"He did real well," he said. "Every time kids ride they do a little better."

The camaraderie of the participants, Kvols said, has developed over time. He said many of the participants who are competing in the 4-H show and riding events also compete on a weekly basis in a gymkhana in Steamboat Springs.

He said the gymkhana, like the 4-H events, gives participants the opportunity to have fun and strive for their personal best.

Sarajane Rossi, 11, said the daily experience of riding horses on her family's ranch gave her an added edge in her riding classes. Rossi placed fourth in reining.

She said she borrowed her mom's horse, Easy, a tall palomino for the day of events.

Parents and community members knowledgeable about the agriculture industry came to help with events.

Cassidy Kurtz, this year's fair queen, helped hand out ribbons and answer questions. She said she enjoyed helping the first-year participants understand the rules, feed their animals and find their next event.

"I think as a whole the showmanship has come a long way and kids are really working on that," she said. "Kids are really becoming more knowledgeable about their animal and their industry."

Kurtz's role as fair queen will end when she hands over her crown to the new queen Sunday.

"It's my last hurrah, but I'll be back to help," she said.

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