COLUMBUS — The 2015 Shelby County Fair queen, Mary Buehler, was named 2016 Ohio Fairs Queen during the Ohio Fair Managers Association (OFMA) annual conference here this month.
“To the best of my knowledge, it’s never happened in Shelby County before,” said Shelby County Fair Secretary Jerry Schaffner.
Buehler, 19, daughter of Judy and Greg Buehler, of Anna, is a freshman at Ohio State University, majoring in agribusiness and applied economics. She competed against 73 other county and independent fair queens for the state crown. Her application to participate outlined her school, community and fair involvement.
She had been a member of the Horse and Rider 4-H club in Jackson Center and the Anna High School FFA. Before graduating in 2015, she played soccer, was a member of Shelby County Junior Leaders and served as the state president of Ohio FCCLA. Currently, she is vice president of the Ohio FFA.
At OSU, Buehler is a member of the Agribusiness Club, Agriculture Communicators of Tomorrow and Buckeyes Against Hunger.
“We went in on Wednesday evening for a meet and greet,” she said of the OFMA selection process. The next day, she went through an interview round that named the top 16 candidates. Buehler answered questions put to her by two judges.
“They asked what my favorite color was and why and if I were to be a fair food, what would it be and why,” she laughed. Her answers: yellow “because it’s bright and vibrant, kind of like my personality,” and “a deep-fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The inside gooiness is very versatile. I view myself as adaptable,” she said.
The 16 semi-finalists then competed onstage. Each had to define a word and relate it to herself. Buehler’s word was “communication.”
A week later, she couldn’t remember exactly what she had said, but she knew she had talked about how, through her experiences with FFA, she had realized that communication can be more difficult than it sounds.
“No matter how nerve-racking, say what you want to say and be confident,” she advised. The onstage contest narrowed the field to five competitors, who then went before a panel of eight judges for yet another interview.
The judges wanted to know what each woman’s message would be, were she to become queen. Buehler’s was what she sees as a gap between agiculturists and consumers.
“The gap is growing,” she said. “Not everyone sees the importance of fairs. But the fair is a great meeting ground for agriculturists and consumers to see what the other ones are concerned about and to tell each other what they do. (Fairs are a great way) to get everyone on the same page.”
Buehler was crowned Saturday, Jan. 11, following a conference keynote address by Youngstown State University President and former OSU football coach Jim Tressel to 1,900 junior and senior fair conference attendees.
As Ohio Fairs Queen, Buehler will attend district meetings of the OFMA and as many 2016 county and independent fairs as she can. She also will have some responsibilities at the 2016 Ohio State Fair. The outgoing queen told her the reign would be an adventure.
“I’m excited to get into that adventure and excited to meet all the new people along the way,” Buehler said. “I couldn’t have made it this far without the help of several supportive individuals. I am humbled and excited for all that is to come this year.”
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