By Susan Reiser, Neighboring Tri-State Correspondent
Autumn Erdman and Kamdyn Van Gelder of Spencer, Iowa have been attending or showing cattle at the Clay County Fair for 16 years. This year, the two wanted to get more involved with the Clay County Fair, so they put their names in the hat to become the Clay County Fair Queen.
Erdman, 16 and a senior at Spencer High School this fall, was crowned queen in the pageant held on May 1. Van Gelder, 16 and a junior at Spencer High School this fall, was crowned first runner-up. The two competed against five other contestants in the areas of personality, attitude and conscientiousness, leadership and citizenship, contribution to community, general appearance, charm, poise and self-expression.
As Queen, Erdman, the daughter of Jolene and Terry Hansen and Bob Erdman, will represent the fair at area parades, the Iowa State Fair during the Queen’s Pageant, and select celebrations during the summer and the Clay County Fair Sept. 10-18.
Erdman will receive numerous gifts from local merchants, including a $1,500 cash prize from Community State Bank to Spencer. As the first runner-up, Van Gelder will receive numerous local prizes and a $1,000 cash prize from the bank.
Erdman, who resides on an acreage near Spencer, is a member of the Meadow Motivators 4-H Club. She is president of the Spencer FFA, president of the National Honor Society, yearbook staff, Clay County 4-H Council, and the football team where she plays three roles. She is active in the Faith Lutheran Youth Group and took a mission trip to Mexico City this summer. Erdman is employed by Fareway in Spencer and as a rock picker for her summer job.
“I plan to show five lambs throughout the summer and take a few to the Clay County Fair and the Iowa State Fair. I sewed a quilt that I can enter at the Clay County Fair,” Erdman said.
After graduating, Erdman said she would like to go to an agriculture-based animal science college with the option of taking the pre-vet track.
As a freshman, she worked in the Clay County Fairground Ambassador Program.
“I wanted to go deeper into my involvement, so I tried out for the beautiful queen,” she said. “I like to go to the fair and meet my friends and meet new people who exhibit on the district side.”
Erdman has been going to the fair all her life. His sister and father attended, and a few family members are in the Hall of Fame.
The past two years, Erdman has won senior showmanship. Once you’ve won it three years in a row, you keep the trophy.
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“I hope this trophy will come home to me this year,” Erdman said.
Van Gelder, who is a city girl, is active in the mock trial, band, student council, tennis, swimming, choir, and the Hope Reformed Youth Group. She is a member of the Lincoln Lyons 4-H Club.
“The swim team takes up a lot of my time,” she said.
She shows cattle during the summer and keeps busy with Vacation Bible School at her church in June. At the end of June, she went on a mission trip to Tennessee.
Van Gelder said she only had one rabbit to take to the fair this year. She will also take cattle and participate in the photography contest. I
She was a junior showman for three years. Last year she had the reserve supreme champion feeder heifer and won the showman senior rabbit class.
Erdman plans to take the entire week off from school to fulfill her duties as Queen by handing out ribbons, attending concerts, participating in food contests and other duties. Van Gelder plans to take two or three days off and will be busy with the rabbit show and cattle competitions. His grandparents, uncles and family show cattle.
“We are able to be at the Clay County Fair as a family,” she said.
You acknowledge Van Gelder’s name as fair royalty. Her sister has run for the Queen for the past two years and was runner-up last year.
“My sister said it was so much fun. I think it will be super fun to have the opportunity to represent the fair,” Van Gelder said.
In the past, the Queen and the runner-up have been allowed to perform concerts during the evening grandstand shows. Now a video of the queen is shown. Erdman said if given the chance she would like to feature Russell Dickerson and Van Gelder also added her favorites from the Ying Yang Twins and Dickerson.
Van Gelder plans to attend Northwestern and major in biology, then go to Iowa State or South Dakota State University for vet school.