By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune
---- — Alyssa Garnett recalls sending a letter to the 2006 State Fair queen and Miss Pulaski County, Bailey Hoover, and signing it her No. 1 fan.
This year, Garnett inherited the title Hoover once bore.
Earning the title of 2014 Miss Indiana State Fair is even more special to Garnett because, years after that 2006 letter, she was able to work closely with Hoover leading up to the moment she earned the crown.
Hoover, now the Miss Pulaski County pageant director, laughed, saying they talked about comparing the old photograph displaying the 11-year-old to the now Miss Indiana State Fair.
“As a director, it’s great to see someone be an example of what a young lady should be doing,” Hoover said. “I was proud sitting in the audience, whether she won or not, but to hear her name was so exciting.”
Other contestants from area counties placed in the top ten. Emily Robertson, Cass County, received first runner up and Larissa Landis, White County, was a finalist.
Garnett said she was not expecting it at all and was grateful for the experience.
“The most rewarding part of the contest was getting to meet the contestants,” Garnett said. “I made a lot of new friends.”
Emily Robertson, who earned first runner-up, agreed with Garnett.
Robertson said her favorite part of the weekend was getting to know the girls from different counties. At the beginning of the weekend, each contestant received a map of Indiana, and by the end Robertson had her entire map of participating counties signed, she said. She described the experience as unbelievable.
Garnett and Robertson said they each felt pride for their counties.
“It is so exciting to win this for Cass County,” Robertson said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”
Garnett agreed, saying she was proud do to it for Pulaski County.
Both Cass and Pulaski Counties have fared well at the State Fair queen pageant in the past. Garnett is the third person from Pulaski County to become Miss Indiana State Fair and Bailey Farrer was first runner-up at the State Fair the previous year, much like Robertson.
“We’re very happy to keep the tradition of the Pulaski County queen and the Indiana State Fair,” Hoover said. “The things they do for young woman’s confidence is a blessing to be a part.”
Garnett said her duties as queen begin immediately. Garnett will make several appearances and her main job is to be the face of the Indiana State Fair and everything it has to offer, Hoover said.
Along with a busy schedule of queen duties, Garnett, a 2012 Winamac High School graduate, is also in her second year at Purdue University. She is studying to receive her bachelor’s and master’s degree within four years and is happy to say she is on track to do so. She is studying business management and will have a concentration on human resources, economics or finance.
Grace Scott, Cass County pageant director, was a judge at the Pulaski County queen pageant this year. Scott said she and Lynnsey Bell were excited to pick someone who went on to win the state contest.
Scott, who described Garnett as a sweet, intelligent and accomplished woman, said the women have a strong bond.
Scott said she was a track coach for Robertson for four years and was so proud of her.
“It’s such a dream come true for her and the Cass County queen committee,” Scott said. “I think we are so fortunate they are outstanding, hard workers.”
Scott said her favorite part was seeing genuine shock and joy on Emily’s face.
“People in the community should know what an honor this is to have two years in a row,” Scott said. “It’s kind of unprecedented.”
Garnett said she was thankful to receive support, well wishes before the pageant and they meant the world to her.
“I’m planning to do a lot of traveling over the next year,” Garnett said. “I can’t wait to begin. It’s going to be exciting.”
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.