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Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair is golden

August 02, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Alexis Smallwood, Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair 2009, wears her crown with honor.  

She's the 50th person to wear the tiara, which this year is gold instead of silver, and she wears a black sash with gold lettering, said Randy Smallwood, her father.  

"Being the 50th is very special," Randy Smallwood said. 

"I was so surprised and so happy to be chosen," Alexis said Sunday at the youth fair in Martinsburg. "It's an honor to be chosen."

Alexis, 15, a 10th-grader at Musselman High School in Inwood, W.Va., said this was the first time she applied for the Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair contest.


Because she is so young, she did not expect to win, she said. To compete in the contest, you must be between 14 and 21, she said. 

Alexis is a member of the Arden 4-H Club member and is its vice president. She has participated in the youth fair for six years.

This year she has a swine project, rabbits, a sewing project and a self-determination project in which she helps ballet students ages 4 to 6 hone their skills. 

Former Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair winners Barb Frankenberry and Charlotte Shade are the team leaders of the Arden 4-H Club, she said. 

"That's why it's such an honor because now I'm a member of their club. They taught me so much to make me the person I am today, along with my family and so many others," Alexis said. "4-H is such a wonderful organization, and it teachers you skills you don't have in everyday life."  

Randy Smallwood said Alexis has participated in Berkeley County scholarship pageants and over the years has gotten better at public speaking. 

"It's how you carry yourself, how you handle yourself and how much you contribute to the community. It's not a beauty pageant," he said of the Miss Berkeley County Youth Fair contest. "It's the only all-youth fair in the nation."

Around the fairgrounds, 4-H'ers were busy looking in on their animals.

Shelby Knepper, 16, an 11th-grader at Hedgesville (W.Va.) High School, is in her eighth year as a 4-H member of the Tomahawk Warriors in Hedgesville.  

She was looking in on her two rabbits, Jasper and his daughter, Miss Mint.  

David Knepper, her father, said his wife, Tammie, was a 4-H member and got their kids into it. 

"It's great for the kids," Knepper said. "The kids involved in this are good kids and they help each other," he said.

"With all the farms and orchards lost, we still are here raising and showing animals through 4-H," Knepper said. 

Caitlin Koski, 17, a Hedgesville High School senior, has been a 4-H member for eight years. She shows her horse, dog, cat and rabbit, she said. 

Her nieces Autumn and Kayla Priller are also 4-H members.  

"You make friends for life," Caitlin said.

If you go

Where: Berkeley County Youth Fair grounds, 2419 Golf Course Road, Martinsburg, W.Va.

Cost: Admission to fair costs $5; free for ages 12 and younger

Contact: Call 304-263-5869 or go to

Berkeley CountyYouth Fair happenings

Monday, Aug. 3

Gates open at noon; close at 11 p.m.

1:30 p.m. -- Small pet show, indoor arena

6 p.m. -- Carnival opens

7 p.m. -- Truck and tractor pull, track area

7 p.m. -- 4-H style show, indoor arena

Tuesday, Aug. 4

Gates open at noon; close at 11 p.m.

1:30 p.m. -- Dog show, indoor arena

5 p.m. -- Ice cream-eating contest, indoor arena

6 p.m. -- Carnival opens

7 p.m. -- Truck and tractor pull, track are

7 p.m. -- Livestock Jeopardy, indoor arena

8 p.m. -- Cow chip bingo, indoor arena

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