Southeastern High grad named 2016 fair queen

Lea Kimley has always looked up to the Clark County Fair queens, having attended fairs since age 5. On Saturday, their eyes were on her.

With 27 former queens in attendance at the Champions Center Banquet Room, the 2016 Southeastern High School graduate was crowned the 2016 Clark County Fair queen.

For Kimley, 18, the title means being able to speak out on an agricultural platform. She’ll study agricultural communications at the Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute this fall.

“I’m really excited to speak out for what agricultural communication is about and being a positive mentor,” she said.

Kimley came in with Clark County Fair royalty experience as she was the 2015 Pork Queen. But when it comes to the impromptu questions of the Fair Queen Contest, past titles don’t help.

“I studied with a friend who asked me questions and prepared and the one I got they didn’t cover,” Kimley said, smiling.

She was satisfied with her answer and able to relax – for a bit.

The breaks for judges’ deliberations meant a lot of pacing and trying to stay cool. But it all turned to joy once the roses, crown and sash were handed out.

Besides her queen duties, Kimley is showing her pigs at the fair as she’s done for years. Her family runs Kimley Show Pigs in South Charleston.

They’ve been all over the country this summer already with the pigs, and Kimley said it’s good being back on home ground. Yet she’s also eager to represent Clark County at other fairs and before heading to school.

“Lea has spent her whole life in the local agriculture community and will make a wonderful representative for us,” said Fair Queen chairperson Debbie Corbitt.

The title comes with a $500 scholarship.

First runner-up was 2015 Northeastern High graduate Jamie Gothard, who earned a $300 scholarship and will begin her second year at the Ohio State University this fall. Lindsay Fries, who just graduated from Northwestern High School, was second runner-up and got a $200 scholarship and will study at the University of Findlay.

Fries also earned the Community Service Award.

The contest also recognized past Clark County Fair queens since 1965, with 27 attending from as far away as California, many in their original crowns and sashes.

Each was introduced with updates on their lives since being fair queens. Career experiences range from doctors and health professionals to military members, educators, executives, students and even former model/actresses.

“We were really thrilled with the turnout,” said Corbitt, who is also a past fair queen.

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