Ruffsdale girl, Westmoreland Fair queen, looks forward to representing county
Move over, Secretary Sonny Perdue: Raine Lookabill, a Southmoreland High School junior and newly crowned Westmoreland Fair Queen, is coming for your job as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"It's not all about the pageant," said Lookabill, 16, wearing a glittering crown, blue sash and her footwear of choice, a pair of cowboy boots. "So much more goes into it."
Lookabill, of Ruffsdale, will represent Westmoreland County at parades, fairs and events around the state for the next year.
She's also a nine-year member of 4-H and leads the Southmoreland Envirothon team and Greenhouse Project. This was her first pageant.
"Being able to represent my county is something I'm really excited for," she said, emphasizing the importance of community engagement. She thinks that being queen is about getting to know the community, giving them a chance to get to know her and staying involved after her yearlong term is up.
Lookabill said she hopes to teach people about the challenges farming communities face, citing insecure water sources and increased competition with large commercial farms as examples.
"It's one of the most amazing places you can go," Lookabill said of the fair, adding that the animals and crops on display show the dedication and passion of the local farming community. It's not easy to get corn to grow just right, to raise a cow with strong muscles or to train a horse to compete, she explained.
"And I think it's important for people to know those people who do all of this," she said.
Someday, she hopes to be an advocate and spokeswoman for local farmers, and to work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For her college studies, she's considering Penn State and the University of Wyoming.
In addition to preparing her 11-year-old horse, Cookie, for competition, Lookabill has enjoyed showing visitors around and making sure everyone feels welcome at the fair.
"Just a smile can get someone so interested in what's going on around them," Lookabill said.
She's also looking forward to setting an example for other young women and encouraging them to go after their goals.
Westmoreland Fair Queen competitors must complete an application, present a speech and answer several essay questions explaining what the fair means to the community and why visitors should stop by.
Several factors contribute to scoring, including composition and content of essays, quality of answers in a personal interview as well as appearance, public speaking ability and speech content.
Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-850-2867, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.