Hail to the fair queen
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 29, 2012 11:58 PM
Sarah Richards, center, a sophomore at Southern Wayne High School, was crowned 2012 Queen of the Fair Friday night. Also pictured, from left, are Ariana Downs, a senior at Rosewood, first runner-up, Miss Congeniality and recipient of the Nicole Painter Talent Award; Charlotte Kornegay, 2011 Fair Queen; Brooke Neal, senior at Wayne Country Day School, second runner-up; and Destiny Dawson, senior at the Wayne School of Engineering, third runner-up.
DUDLEY -- Growing up in Mount Olive, Sarah Richards was comfortable on the stage in the Entertainment Arena of the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.
"She won the talent show at the fair when she was in second, fourth and sixth grade," said her mom, Connie Richards, attributing the lapse in years to fair rules, which state that one can't win first place two years in a row.
Sarah also competed in her share of pageants since the age of 9, earning such titles as Miss Fourth of July, Miss Tiny Wayne County and Greater Miss Wayne County.
So when this year's Queen of the Fair contest rolled around, Mrs. Richards mentioned it to her daughter, now a sophomore at Southern Wayne High School.
"My mom thought it would be a good idea, because of the scholarships," said Sarah, who wants to become an anesthesiologist.
As the winners were announced Friday night and Sarah's name was the final one called, Mrs. Richards patiently waited to offer congratulations, approaching only to reposition a wayward curl as photographers prepared to snap pictures.
"I knew she could do it," she said, proudly. "She's been clogging since she was probably 5."
Sarah, a varsity cheerleader and recipient of the Girl Scout Silver Award, performed a contemporary clogging routine to "Soul Man."
Dad, Eddie, and older brother, Jacob -- 20, a college student studying to become a pilot -- were also in the audience, along with grandparents, Danny and Helen Richards of Goldsboro.
Miss Richards said she had enjoyed the experience of participating in the contest.
"I met so many wonderful people," she said afterward.
As this week's ambassador during the fair, the 2012 queen said there is one event she is particularly looking forward to attending.
"Probably the derby," she said. "I have always been to the derby. Now that I get to hand them the trophy, I think it will be awesome."
Twelve contestants participated in this year's competition. The number was down slightly this year as two high schools, Spring Creek and Charles B. Aycock, held homecoming events at the same time.
Ariana Downs, a senior at Rosewood High, was named first runner-up as well as Miss Congeniality, and received the Nicole Painter Talent Award for highest overall score in the talent portion of the competition, which accounted for 40 percent of the total score. For her talent, she sang "Stuff Like That There."
Second runner-up was Brooke Neal, a senior at Wayne Country Day School. Destiny Dawson, a senior at Wayne School of Engineering, was third runner-up.
Prizes awarded included in-kind scholarships from Mount Olive College. The queen received a $2,000 award, while the first runner-up received a $1,500 scholarship, second runner-up a $1,000 scholarship and third runner-up a $500 scholarship.
Gaye Hare, director for the past 24 years, was also recognized for her years of service.
Other contestants this year included Shalaya Brown, a junior at Goldsboro High School; Allison Newsome, Eastern Wayne High senior; Sophia Le, a sophomore at Eastern Wayne; Logan Bill, a senior at Rosewood High; Madeline Smith, a senior at Eastern Wayne; Taylor Gales, a junior at Rosewood; Samantha Pigg, a senior at Southern Wayne; and Andra Core, a junior at Southern Wayne.