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Farm queen takes title with some reluctance

June 29, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

photo: MIKE CRUPI / staff photographer

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Reluctant queen

SHARPSBURG - The Washington County Farm Bureau searched high and low for a new farm queen, sending out applications to 22 girls and giving information to five high schools.

When officials finally found one, Williamsport resident Kristen Davis, she wasn't exactly ecstatic.

"Kristen had a lot of reservations about doing this because there wasn't a contest," said Helen Main, chair of the bureau's Women's Committee.

At one time, county girls would compete for the farm queen crown in a contest similar to the statewide one the county winner competes in each year.

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But as the number of farms has declined in the county and the number of other activities has increased, Main said it has become harder to field contestants for the farm queen contest.

Last year's winner, Kelly Beckley, was unopposed after another girl dropped out.

"It's been that way, probably, for about 10 years," Main said.

But at the coronation on Sunday at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, Davis said she was excited about her new role.

"Just running by myself is kind of uncomfortable," said Davis, who lives on a farm outside Williamsport and works at the family meat market in town.

"If you grow up on the farm, you have an advantage in appreciating where things come from," she said.

Past farm queens told Davis on Sunday that the title is well worth having.

Beckley, who was the third runner-up at last year's state contest, said she gained many friends over the past year that she never would have met otherwise.

Beckley said she will major in agricultural economics at Virginia Tech this fall.

"Hopefully, I can come back and help someone," she said.

Cathy Wiles, the 1989 Washington County farm queen, also has remained active in farming.

Wiles, who encouraged Davis to run for queen, recently took over her father's dairy farm. She said she knew Davis would make a good queen.

"She speaks well. She has a fluent and friendly personality," Wiles said. "It's a great opportunity. You never forget all the friends."

Davis, 17, who will be a senior at Williamsport High School this fall, received $100 for her title. She also has the chance to compete for state farm queen at the state fair in August.

Davis said she hopes to be an x-ray technician but plans to stay close to the farm. She said she works five days a week at the meat market and also raises 4-H animals.

At the statewide contest in August, Davis will have to answer "fish bowl" questions about agriculture. She did not have to do that on Sunday, but Main gave her a practice question anyway.

Davis was asked what she would tell a group of city teens about farming.

Her answer: "I would tell them agriculture is about everything they do, everything they eat, everything they wear. Agriculture is not just about farming."

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