BOWLING GREEN - If boys can be king at 16, why should girls have to be 17 to be queen?
That's what Wood County's Junior Fair Board wants to know. It plans to meet with the Senior Fair Board tonight to discuss a proposed change in the age requirements for the fair's popular king and queen contest.
Some members of the fair's king and queen committee have recommended only girls 17 and 18 be eligible for the contest to reduce the number of girls competing. In previous years, girls ages 16 to 18 were eligible.
Jayne Roth, adviser to the junior fair board, said some committee members apparently felt the contest lasted too long because of the number of girls competing. The contest typically attracts about 20 king candidates and 40 or more queen candidates who are interviewed by two panels of judges a few weeks before the county fair.
"We have a really big program and a really good program," she said. "That's the rub. Why do we want to go backwards? That's what the junior fair board says, let's move forward. They don't want to cut people out of a program just because it's too long."
Stacie Wenig, president of the junior fair board and a queen contestant at 16 last year, said the contest is a great experience for young people.
"Where else, at age 16 or 17, do you get a 10-minute interview where you dress up in formal business attire and learn all those communication skills? They're going to help you so much for scholarship interviews or job interviews," she said. "You learn so much, and it's a fun experience too. One thing we don't need to do is take away [these kinds of experiences] from our youth."
Miss Wenig said every year for the last seven years, a 16-year-old girl has been chosen for the fair court, which includes the queen and three runners-up.
"We want the ages to stay at 16 for king candidates and 16 for queen candidates because we feel it's the fairest way to do it and you're not getting this experience anywhere else," she said.
Allen Limes, who oversees the king and queen contest for the senior fair board, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Ms. Roth said that the contest helps attracts more visitors to the county fair, including friends and relatives of king and queen candidates. And, she said, it's a big deal for Wood County teens.
"They get recognized in front of the grandstand in front of a couple thousand people," she said. "They get their picture on the front page of the newspaper, and people know that if you were selected, by golly, you earned it."
Contact Jennifer Feehan