Royalty at the fair -- Gazette.Net


There will be a royal competition at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair.

Leah McLean and Patrick O’Hanlon, representing Silver Spring, will be among the 10 princesses and princes in the 2014 Fair Royal Court.

Leah, 15, is a Montgomery Blair High School student. Patrick, 15, is home-schooled.

Both students are gold medal recipients of the President’s Volunteer Service Award and members of Montgomery County’s 4-H program, a youth development organization.

According to the fair, to become part of the royal court, a candidate must be 14 to 18 years old and a member of one of the following organizations: Montgomery County 4-H, the Montgomery County Agricultural Organization, or a Montgomery County Agricultural Center volunteer.

The remaining eight members of the royal court are from Damascus, Germantown, Gaithersburg, Rockville, Clarksburg, and Olney.

The fair coronation is on Sunday after a 5 p.m. parade.

According to Lorelei Irons, the royalty chair spokeswoman, the king and queen are chosen by three judges after an application process and an interview.

The new king and queen each get a $1,500 scholarship award. The first prince and princess get $300 apiece and the remaining royals get $200 apiece.

Becoming royalty is no easy task.

“It’s like a job application,” said Martha O’Hanlon, Patrick’s mother. “They have to tell everything they’ve done and why they’re qualified.”

At the fair, the royal court serve as hosts and promote the event to visitors. Princes and princesses also present awards during animal shows and walk around the fair to help if visitors need information.

This is Leah’s fourth year in the fair. She said she has volunteered and entered different foods, crafts and demonstrations before, but this is her first year as a princess.

Teens can be a prince or princess multiple times, but can be king or queen just once.

This is Patrick’s third year participating in the fair and first as a prince. He also has volunteered and entered different projects at the fair.

Besides his royal duties, Patrick will show Susan, a playful and curious black and brown goat, at the 4-H goat show and the open dairy goat show. He leases Susan from the the Willow Grove Farm in Olney.

“I’m a little nervous because I have to memorize all the stuff [about] my goat. ... You have to know all the different body parts. ... All that goat knowledge for showmanship,” Patrick said.

At the Willow Grove Farm, there are 15 goats and almost all of them are leased to members of the 4-H organization at no charge.

“It is just a paper agreement ...,” said Casey Lyon, a daughter of the farm’s owners. “For our farm, we just ask that they come over a couple of times a week. They learn how to help us with chores [and] they spend time working with their animal, so their animal gets prepared for the fair.”

Leasing animals is part of a partnership between 4-H and the Willow Grove Farm. Other farms around the county also participate in similar programs.

Princess Leah and Prince Patrick hope visitors have a good time at the fair.

“I hope people will see it as a great experience for everyone. ... Let’s say you are not really into agriculture, but you are more into animals or you are more into cake decorating, it doesn’t matter; there’s something for everyone’s interests at fair,” Leah said.

“It is the people that make the fair. It’s not the rides. It’s not the animals. It’s the people,” Patrick said.