Almost two months ago, I had the opportunity to judge the O'Brien County Fair King and Queen Contest.
When I was asked to participate in the event, I honestly did not think much of it. I figured I was qualified enough, as I had been involved in extracurriculars -- such as speech, drama and FFA -- in high school and am also familiar with 4-H, due to family involvement.
Apparently that, and working for a relative of an O'Brien County Extension employee, was enough to make me a judge for 150 minutes one Tuesday morning.
As readers of my blog titled, "Kings and queens of northwest Iowa," know, I was thoroughly impressed with the contestants.
Through their speeches and interviews, it was clear that any one of the three young women and two young men were qualified to represent their county.
They were so well-qualified that each contest was tied at one point or another. Initially, we thought others voted as a tie-breaker, but we found out they eliminated that option to limit the "popularity" aspect of the contest.
So, we re-evaluated our scores and came up with two winners: Jeremy Maas, of Ida Grove, and Paris Schnepf, of Granville.
Though there currently is not a state stage for kings, Schnepf dominated the Iowa State Fair Queen scene and picked up the title.
I was both extremely excited and, yet, not at all surprised to hear this news.
Schnepf just had an air of charisma and confidence about her that should make O'Brien County residents proud to call her one of their own.
One of our own, Cassie Galm, came up second to Schnepf. Maybe I'm setting myself up for hate mail by admitting I helped the girl who beat her be there in the first place, but I sure hope not.
Both Galm and Schnepf are great ambassadors of northwest Iowa, and would have been regardless of how judges in Primghar, Spencer or Des Moines ranked them.
After being a judge myself -- of just three young women, mind you -- I am not one bit envious of the chore the panel at the state level tackles every year.
There's a lot of great young people being raised in this state.
This column goes out to every single one of them.
Keep up the good work, and continue to make Iowa proud.