ADENA - Royalty was bestowed upon Jefferson County on Jan. 10 when Katherine Whinnery, daughter of Robert and Vicky Whinnery of Adena, was crowned Ohio Fairs queen at the Ohio Fairs Managers Convention held in Columbus.
From a field of 68 contestants from throughout the state, Whinnery advanced to the top 15 during the first day of competition.
The selected queen candidates chose a slip of paper bearing one word from a bowl on stage. They were told to define the word, what it meant to them and how it applied to their life.
MEET THE QUEEN — Katherine Whinnery, crowned Ohio Fairs queen on Jan. 10, was escorted to the Jefferson County commissioners meeting by members of the Jefferson County Fair board. On hand were, from left, Commissioners Thomas Graham and Tom Gentile; Whinnery, and Commissioner David Maple. -- Mark Law
Whinnery's selected word from the bowl was "reliable."
"We had a minute to think about our answer but I didn't put much thought into it during those 60 seconds. I knew I would get more nervous if I dwelled on it too much," she said.
Reliable was an opportune word for Whinnery. She learned reliability at an early age through her 10 years in 4-H with the Windy Ridge 4-H Club; her studies at St. Clairsville High School, where she is ranked second in her graduating class; and in her four years of playing volleyball in high school.
From the explanation of the word, she was placed among the top five contestants, who then spoke on an individual basis with six judges.
The top five were given free lodging in their hotel for the duration of the weekend, Whinnery noted.
The final five contestants attended a luncheon with leaders of agriculture, business and organizations present and then visited different venues at the Fair Managers Expo and spoke to the vendors.
The girls then attended the showcase dinner, where entertainment was provided by the Swan Brothers from "The Voice" and other-up-and-coming entertainers.
"The day had been exhausting but great fun," Whinnery said.
"On the big day of the crowing, we dressed in evening gowns and attended the Junior Fair Day opening. The ballroom was full but we were guided to the front for introductions and to be seated. There was a keynote speaker, opening ceremonies and at the end of the ceremonies the 2013 queen was called to the front and announcements started by naming the fourth runner-up. When they were down to just two, we just looked at each other in amazement," she said.
" I was very excited about being crowned the Ohio Fairs Queen. Growing up with the county fairs, I fell in love with the royalty coronations. I had the opportunity to see more of the process when my sister, Laura, was the Jefferson County Fair queen," Whinnery recalled.
"My responsibilities will include traveling to as many of the county fairs as possible during my reign. Family members and friends have lined up to volunteer to take me to the different county fairs if my parents are not able to do it," she said.
"My mother experienced all of the interviewing and being named for the top 15, top five and then queen. I think she was more nervous than I was. My mother was crowned Harrison County Fair queen in 1975 and attended the National 4-H Club Congress in the citizenship category in Washington, D.C., in her time. She carried over her love of 4-H into being an adviser with the Windy Ridge 4-H Club and is the junior fair coordinator," the newly crowned queen explained.
The Whinnery couple were not the only ones to be excited about the honor bestowed upon the 18-year-old.
Janine Yeske, county 4-H educator, said she was overjoyed that someone who had come up through the 4-H program had been selected.
Ray Hilderbrand, agricultural society president, said, "I could not have been happier. This means something to our fair board, to our fair programs and the whole county. All of the fair board members present were excited and overwhelmed as well. She will make a great representative for our county," he said.
Whinnery's history goes far back as her grandmother, Katherine Whinnery, who worked with the Harrison County Extension, and her mother and dad were in 4-H as well.
She started in the program that promotes Head, Heart, Health and Hands when she was 8-years-old, with the Windy Ridge 4-H Club. She took sewing projects all 10 years, going to the Ohio State Fair for competition each year. Cooking had her interest on four or five occasions and she had a dairy science project one year.
In her first year, she took a steer as a livestock project but did not like the way it pulled her around the show ring. The next nine years were devoted to raising hogs.
Whinnery plans to attend Ohio State University in the fall, majoring in agriculture and biological engineering. She then plans to go to graduate school and study medicine. She has been on the principal's list all four years of high school, is vice president of the National Honor Society, a member of the show choir and has been a member of the Red Devils volleyball team for four years.
Her summer will be busy from mid June until the time she leaves for college in late August. But she said she anticipates it with joy.
As some fair board members remarked, "She will be a good example of the county."