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Westmoreland Fair queen hails from New Florence

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Marilyn Forbes | for the Ligonier Echo
Hattie Henderson, 18, of New Florence is crowned queen of the 2013 Westmoreland Fair queen on opening day of the fair Friday.
Marilyn Forbes | for the Ligonier Echo
Hattie Henderson wins a 4-H Diamond Award for her project called 'Books for Jessica' where she is collecting new and used books about horses and farm animals to be distributed to children's groups in the county. The project was started in memory of Jessica Rekos, a horse lover, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

The phrase “third time is a charm” rings true for Hattie Henderson of New Florence who was crowned queen of the 59th Westmoreland Fair on Friday. She was named princess in 2011 and was first runner-up in 2012.

“I think that my being in the contest before helped me a lot,” Henderson said. “I think that the experience of being in it prior to my winning will help me to be a better fair queen.”

Henderson, 18, has been an active part of the fair for many years, showing horses, goats, chickens and lambs. The experience is one that is shared by the entire family, who camps out at the fair for the week every year.

Henderson is the daughter of Carol and Randy Henderson and a graduate of the Achievement House Cyber School. She is attending Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus, were she is seeking a dual major in animal sciences and agriculture business management.

“Most families plan their summer vacations to go to the beach,” said her mother. “We plan ours to stay at the fair.”

Henderson was a standout in the competition for fair queen because of her passion and her presentation, according to the judges.

“She was just so poised,” said judge Jason Probst of Mt. Pleasant Township. “She was confident and poised and she was so sincere.”

For now, Henderson plans to enjoy her new reign, and is thrilled to have seen a long time dream come true.

“I wanted to be the fair queen for as long as I can remember,” Henderson said, adding that she plans to use her new title to all that she can to promote agriculture and the fair itself.” “I have enjoyed coming to the fair for many years and I am so happy that now I have the opportunity to give back.”

Touched by the story of Jessica Rekos, a 6-year-old girl who was killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting who was known for her love of horses, Henderson is collecting new and used children's books about horses and farm animals to donate in Jessica's memory to various Westmoreland County children's organizations.

“I have already collected between 150 to 200 books,” Henderson said. “There has been a lot of interest.”

Henderson said she looks forward to her week at the fair and being an active representative for agriculture in the area.

“I'd like to be able to go to schools and talk to kids about agriculture and about the fair, and I plan to do that when I can.” Henderson said.

Henderson competed in a field of 12 for the title. Her mother said a large cheering section was on hand to support Henderson. They were thrilled when Henderson's name was announced.

“I cried,” said Carol Henderson. “We all cried — aunts, uncles, family and friends. I don't think that there was a dry eye among us.”

In addition to tending to her animals, Henderson stays busy with other activities and hobbies including square dancing, sewing and quilting.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.