3rd time’s the charm for fair queen

Rebecca Billings traded one crown for a bigger one after she was named Miss Congeniality and ultimately the 2022 Brown County Fair Queen on Sunday night.

“It is heavy,” Billings said as 2021 fair queen Hailey Lane placed the final crown on her head.

This year’s fair queen pageant was unlike any other after the crowd moved to the Exhibit Building next door to finish the pageant following a power outage in the Pavilion during a storm. But the rainy weather did not dampen the mood of the contestants as they all stood with smiles on their faces ready for the winners to be announced.

For the last two fair queens, the number three has been lucky. This was the third time Billings had competed and she was the third contestant of the evening. Last year’s fair queen pageant was Lane’s third time competing and she was also contestant number three when she won the crown.

“They said three was the lucky number,” Billings said as she wore a smile as big as her bouquet of flowers in her hands.

Billings was also crowned the Brown County Fair Princess in 2019.

Being her last year in 4-H — she shows goats, her dog and horse — Billings said she decided to compete for the fair queen crown one more time.

“When that happened I was like ‘Oh my gosh. I actually did it.’ The two years paid off before,” she said.

After winning Miss Congeniality, Billings said she was not sure she would win the big crown.

“When you don’t think you’re going to win unexpected things happen,” she said.

“Just never give up and be yourself.”

Since she was in seventh grade, Billings has represented Brown County in livestock show arenas. She began showing in the 4-H horse and pony contests. Last year she started showing her dog. This year she added showing goats to her 4-H repertoire. Later this summer she will compete at state with her horse.

If you ask her parents, Amanda and John Hardin, Billings is the all-around country girl who can most likely be found working with her animals in cowboy boots.

“I kept telling her today she deserves it. This is her last year. She worked really hard. She’s very known in the community. She’s got a passion,” Amanda said.

The parents were “over the moon” happy their daughter — who John described as “outgoing, funny” and someone who “everybody loves” — won the crown her last year in 4-H.

“She has a heart of gold. She loves everybody. She is just everybody’s sunshine,” Amanda said.

“Everything was emotional for her with it being her last year. I just always remind her going into it ‘Just give it your best and smile. If you don’t win anything you don’t win anything, you tried you’re hardest.’ She still would have left here smiling.”

Billings will represent Brown County at the Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant early next year. But this week, Billings said she looks forward to eating her favorite fair food — fried potatoes with ketchup — and catching her favorite grandstand event, the demolition derby.

This year’s Brown County Fair Princess Lillian Voils is also looking forward to walking around the fair with her crown on her head, ready to talk with her community and share all that is great about 4-H.

“Hopefully get them to join 4-H because 4-H is so much fun,” the 16 year old said after winning her crown.

Voils has been in 4-H since she was 8 years old. She is a 4-H Junior Leader, which is one of the reasons she continues to keep participate in 4-H. She also likes doing different projects each year for an Open Class exhibit. This year she painted a cow in the Open Class fine arts category.

“Every year I try to try something new, so I always do a different open class project if I can. It’s so much fun because every year you see something new, you try something new,” she said.

She is no stranger to fair royalty either. She competed in the Brown County Junior-Littles pageants five times with the first time being when she was 6 years old. She was named the Junior Princess in 2017 then brought home the Junior Queen crown three times in 2018, 2019 and 2021.

It is fair to say getting the fair queen’s crown is next on her to do list. But until then Voils said she is going to enjoy walking around and being a role model for young girls.

“I would like to be a role model for young girls anyways, but with the crown they will notice me more,” she said.

Growing up, Voils would go to the fair every week and see the fair queen and her court walking around the fairgrounds with their sashes and crowns on. Now it is her turn.

“They seemed to have so much fun. I am so excited to do that with all of them and have a bunch of little new friends, get to know them,” she said.

Voils said she wants to encourage her community to come out to the fair this week for some fun.

“And if you see me say hi,” she said.

The fair kicked off yesterday, Monday July 25 with the carnival opening at 6 p.m. for bracelet night and food booths serving up the classic favorites as engines roared in the grandstand and animals moved about in the livestock barns.

The last day of the fair will be Saturday, July 30.