Ag Expo - For queen, crown is 'icing on the cake'

August 02, 1998

By TERRY TALBERT / Staff Writer

photo: MIKE CRUPI / staff photographer

Laura Schmidt, 17, was crowned queen of Washington County Ag Expo Saturday night in ceremonies at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center south of the city.

Schmidt was one of nine young women vying for the title.

"I'm very excited," she said after the ceremony. "This is my fourth year of competition. This is just like the icing on the cake."

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The new queen, who will represent Ag Expo for the next year, was first runner-up the past two years. She was crowned by outgoing queen Tia Waltemire.


The first runner-up in Saturday's contest was 14-year-old Carrie Shank, the daughter of John and Sharon Shank. She is a student at South Hagerstown High School.

Jessica Baker, 17, and Rebecca Fishack, 16, tied for the second runner-up spot. Baker is the daughter of Mark Baker. She attends Williamsport High School. Fishack is the daughter of Glenn and Margaret Fishack, and a student at Smithsburg High School.

A panel of three judged the candidates in four categories. The first category consisted of an interview in which they were rated on their speaking ability, knowledge of Ag Expo, knowledge of their exhibit and their personality.

The second category was an on-stage interview, where judges considered each contestant's personality, poise and posture, stage presence and ability to convey ideas.

The third category was an on-stage response to a surprise question drawn from a fishbowl. Contestants were judged on delivery, content and organization.

The fourth category was a 30-second radio commercial for Ag Expo created by each contestant and read on stage. The commercials were judged on delivery and content.

A large crowd closely followed the competition on Saturday.

The new queen is the daughter of Barry and Donna Schmidt. She attends South Hagerstown High School where last year she was in the National Honor Society, a varsity cheerleader, prom committee president and vice president of the school French Club.

She is an intern for Carriagehouse Design, president of the Bits 'n' Bridles 4-H horse club, an All-Star member of the Maryland 4-H and a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church of Funkstown, where she is in the youth group and handbell choir.

She exhibited a quarter-horse mare, arts and crafts and photographs at Ag Expo.

During questioning, Schmidt said she felt Ag Expo was important to the community.

"I would tell people to come out and see the farm animals and the agriculture that goes on in their community. Ag Expo is important. Without it, the county would be pretty dull."

Shank is involved in student council, band, chorus, and sports at South HAgerston. She also is a peer mediator.

She is involved in church and 4-H activities, and volunteers at a nursing home. She helps raise funds for the Y-Me breast cancer group. She exhibited dairy steers and baked goods, and participated in the Fashion Revue.

While the judges were making their decision in the queen contest, auctioneers started selling the champion baked goods made by 4-Hers. The cakes, breads, cookies and pies are traditionally auctioned after the baked goods are judged. Money raised by the auction supports 4-H training conferences, volunteer programs and camps.

Saturday night's auction brought in $3,020.

"We were really pleased," said Ag Expo's Mary Ellen Waltemire.

The grand champion cake went to high bidder Ellsworth Electric Co. for $280, Waltemire said. It was a coconut cake made by Helen Barnhart of the Chewsville 4-H Club.

Ag Expo continues all this week at the Ag Center off Sharpsburg Pike, 10 miles south of Hagerstown.

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