There was lots of applause and smiles all around as 2013 Missouri State Fair Queen Ashley Bauer crowned Hannah Keene as the 2014 queen Friday in the Mathewson Exhibition Center, something that was all too familiar for the two women.
Both young women call Warrenton their hometown, and both have held the title of Miss Warren County. Bauer handed over her Warren County crown to Keene last year, and did the same Friday with her State Fair crown, making the moment a little more special than usual.
“I just looked over at Ashley and screamed,” Keene said of when she heard her name announced as the winner. “It’s an honor to be crowned by Ashley. We’ve grown up together. It’s such a whirlwind that all of this is happening right now, and it’s such an honor to know the queen who is crowning you.”
Not only do Bauer and Keene now have the honor of sharing both titles, they have made Warren County history — Bauer was the first contestant from Warren County to be named State Fair Queen, and Keene has extended that for the second year in a row.
“She completely rocked it,” Bauer said of Keene’s win. “She’s blossoming into a beautiful young woman. It’s really awesome that we are from the same hometown. She’s in for a fun-filled and busy week, but I know she can handle it. She’s poised, confident, friendly, outgoing. She’s going to rock it. And getting to crown her was the biggest honor in the world.”
Keene competed against 58 other young women from across the state for her new title in evening wear, talent, and interview. Each contestant was asked about the recent passage of Amendment 1, known as the “Right to Farm” amendment, and how they would advocate for agriculture if named queen. It was Keene’s answer and poise during the interview portion that won over one judge.
“She was very articulate. I was very impressed with how she handled herself onstage,” said judge Sheri Wood, of Palmyra. “She looked comfortable onstage and took command of the stage. She was a stand out to me with her onstage question.”
Wood was viewing a familiar scene herself — her daughter, Emily Wood, helped emcee the two-day event, and previously worn the State Fair crown in 2012.
“All the contestants did a great job, you could tell they worked hard,” Sheri said. “I’m very glad to be part of it. I’m usually on the other side of this, backstage helping my daughter get ready. It was a privilege to judge and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
The 20-year-old 2014 queen is a student at the University of Missouri where she is studying physical therapy. She said she hopes to one day work with trauma patients, helping them with rehabilitation for everyday tasks after serious injuries, such as those sustained from vehicle accidents.
She was also a member of 4-H while in high school, and shows horses, just like her brother. She said she’s been riding horses since she was 3 years old. Agriculture, which is a focus of the Missouri State Fair Queen Pageant, runs in the Keene family.
“I worked on my grandma’s farm, and one of my fondest memories is shucking sweet corn with my cousins,” she said. “Even when it was really hot, it was fun to have everyone together. We have a big family, my mom is one of 17, so it’s nice when we can all get together.”
While her future career isn’t in the agriculture industry, Keene said she plans to incorporate it into her life.
“I plan on having a horse farm,” she said. “I plan on raising my family around agriculture and instilling in them the values of farming that were instilled in me when I was growing up with it.”
Keene now has a busy week ahead of her as the new Missouri State Fair Queen. She’ll spend the rest of the fair attending events and contests and advocating for both the fair, the state and the agriculture industry during the next year. Keene said this isn’t the first time she’s attended the fair, but it’s the first time she’s competed here. The new queen was quickly whisked off to take photos and although she hadn’t seen her official schedule yet, she has some events she’s looking forward to.
“I’m excited to see the rodeo. Growing up around that, around barrel racing, it’s dear to my heart,” she said. “And I’m excited to meet everyone at the fair, and during the next year.”