By Navar Watson
After an extra-long pause of suspense, the crowd at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds burst into applause when emcee Greg Knapp announced the 2014 4-H Fair Queen – Noblesville resident and first-time contestant Erica Danielle Freeman.
“I couldn’t be more pleased,” mother MaryPat Freeman said while watching friends congratulate her daughter. “I’m so impressed by just what a great adult she’s turning into. 4-H has really helped her.”
Freeman has completed 10 projects in her four years of 4-H. A junior at Noblesville High School, she plans on attending Purdue University and studying large animal sciences.
An avid horse lover, Freeman will be participating in the horse and pony projects at the fair. She also is entered in veterinary sciences and shooting sports.
“My parents always taught me to be true to myself and just be the best that I can personally be,” Freeman said after being asked why she thinks she rose to the top. “If that’s all I can give, then that’s the best I can do.”
She said the most important part of representing the Hamilton County 4-H fair is “being a positive influence for the younger generation and … (showing) them that confidence is key in life.”
Noblesville residents almost swept the 2014 Queen’s Court as other residents receiving sashes include first runner-up Rachel Flanders second runner-up Victoria Comin, third runner-up Kara Moody and fourth-runner up Kendall Gatewood. Alyssa Wilmot from Cicero was elected Miss Congeniality.
The judge panel included Pamela Gardner from WISH-TV, former Indiana State fair board member Justin Messersmith and six-time judge Krystal McBride.
Kara Moody, who competed in the pageant the previous two years, said “it was definitely a surprise” winning third runner-up.
“(This) is so amazing,” she said after the pageant. “It’s like a huge, final ‘hoorah.’ It’s the best way I can think of ending my 4-H career.”
A 10-year member, Moody is entered in 20 projects this year and has completed more than 200 in her 4-H tenure. She plans to attend IUPUI and major in elementary education.
Last year’s queen, Kyleigh Kimbrell, also a Noblesville resident, shared some parting words to the contestants before ending her tenure.
“Strive to be your best,” she said. “It doesn’t take much to leave a footprint on these fairgrounds, and it doesn’t take a crown to do that … Always be your 100 percent.”
The 2014 Hamilton County 4-H Fair is July 17 through 22.