HARTFORD, Ohio — As the results of the 2018 Ohio Fairs’ Queen contest came down to the final five, Hartford Independent Fair Queen Morgan McCutcheon waited nervously.
Sitting on stage in front of 2,600 people, McCutcheon remembers all the thoughts that went through her head as she listened to the day’s keynote speaker.
“I just kept going back through my head — all the memories from past fairs, the contest to now,” said McCutcheon, 18, of St. Louisville, in Licking County.
At the beginning of the contest, 77 county and independent fair queens attended the Ohio Fair Managers Association annual meeting in January.
The day before the crowning, McCutcheon stood among 16 finalists, giving a speech inspired by a word she had drawn out of a hat.
“My word was encouragement,” said McCutcheon. “I talked about the peewee showmanship contest and seeing those little kids look so excited, but nervous to enter the show ring.”
McCutcheon said helping with the peewee showmanship contest at her own fair is one of her favorite junior fair board activities.
“That’s where everyone gets their start,” she said. “I get to help them get their start like I did.”
In her speech, McCutcheon said offering a little bit of encouragement to the youth is the little push they need.
Back on stage, the keynote had finished her speech and it was time to crown a winner.
“It got down to the top two and we stood up and it hadn’t hit me yet,” said McCutcheon.
Then her name was announced.
“My jaw instantly dropped. There were a lot of emotions.”
In the swirl of hugs and congratulations from her family, her friends and her fellow fair queens, one person stood out in her mind.
Cindy Twyford, office manager at the Hartford Independent Fair, had always been one of McCutcheon’s biggest supporters and mentors, and she was battling cancer
“She wasn’t feeling the greatest from her cancer treatment,” said McCutcheon, but she made the trip to Columbus in to watch Morgan get crowned Jan. 6.
After she died in March, Morgan made sure the Hartford Independent Fair sash she wore on stage that day was buried with Twyford.
“Cindy had ordered the sash to match my outfit,” said McCutcheon.
Role as a queen
As the Ohio Fairs’ Queen, McCutcheon’s schedule is filling up. Throughout her term, she will travel to as many Ohio fairs as she can and visit with 4-H clubs around the state.
“One fair even invited me to their celebrity pig show,” she said. At the end of her term, she will help crown the next Ohio Fairs Queen in January.
“That will be the last activity I do in my 4-H career.”
Q&A with Morgan McCutcheon
What have you shown at the fair?
Market and breeding sheep and a market goat through Clover Connections 4-H Club, and woodworking, concrete and landscaping projects through FFA at Utica High School.
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What other 4-H and FFA activities have you participated in?
She has served as a Licking County 4-H Camp counselor, Hartford Junior Fair board member, Ohio 4-H State Ambassador, Licking County lamb queen, recognized as the 2016 State 4-H Sheep Project Award winner, Utica FFA chapter officer, 4-H club officer, and attended several state and national events representing Licking County 4-H, including the 2016 National 4-H Congress in Atlanta.
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What is your favorite part about being in a 4-H leadership role?
Focusing on the youth and helping them through the 4-H program. Morgan hopes to start 4-H programs in areas where children don’t have the opportunities to join 4-H.
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Where are you going to college and what will you study?
Plans to attend Ohio State University in the fall to become a pediatric nurse practitioner.
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What is your favorite fair food?
Pulled pork nachos and Mowry’s Stromboli
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What is your favorite spot on the fairgrounds?
When she’s not spending her time in the new junior fair board office, Morgan enjoys sitting outside the sheep barn where she can be close to her animals.
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Why should people come to the Hartford Fair?
“I think people should go to a fair, whether it’s our fair or their own county fair, and see all the hard work the youth have put into their projects.”
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