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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Fair's royalty anxious for crowning moments

When you’re at the Lake County Fair in a few weeks, you might have to look really quickly to see them.

They’ll probably seem like blurs darting around the fairgrounds in Painesville Township.

But, as busy as they’ll be, there’s no doubt Meradith Voegtler and Natalie Pachinger will be smiling ear to ear both as they’re competing and waving to the crowds.

The two 4-Hers are showing animals in the fair and serving as the 2013 Lake County Fair queen and court.

Voegtler, of Perry, was crowned as the 2013 queen after serving last year as second runner-up. Pachinger, of Mentor, will be her first runner-up.

Both girls have long histories in 4-H in Lake County but have taken different paths.

Voegtler said she has been a member for seven years, joining with her brother after seeing her friends in the group. She said she was leery of the market experience, which requires sale of animals after you’ve raised them, and instead started with crafts and photography projects.

Later on, she went into the animal fields, starting with rabbits, then pigs, and is involved with chickens and horses at this year’s fair.

She said she, like last year’s queen Megan Muzic, plans to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Muzic just completed her first year at University of Findlay.

“It’s something we’ve been around for so long,” Voegtler said. “Not only is it something we like, but we’ve learned from it. It’s a responsibility. I mean, you learn how to deal with money, you have to have your animals taken care of. Your vet comes out, and you learn from that. It’s something you’re proud of, so why not go into something you love.”

Voegtler has a unique reason to be thrilled to have won this year’s crown.

“I always wanted to be somebody someone could look up to,” she said. “Last year, I had second runner-up, and there were all these little kids, and they thought it was really cool. And I think it’s more of a reason for them to look up to me and makes me more of a role model.”

She’s going to be spending a good deal of time with Pachinger this year.

“I am very thankful for this opportunity,” Voegtler said. “Last year, I came in second runner-up, which was awesome, because I got to meet a whole lot of new people. And this year, I thought there were going to be more people, but I’m glad I can do this with Natalie.”

Pachinger also will be involved in the fair’s horse shows.

She’s been riding since she was very young, taking after her mom, who also rode most of her life. She said she’s never had formal lessons in riding, instead having direction from her mom.
She now teaches youngsters just learning to ride.

She’ll be enjoying her final 4-H year at the fair, before heading off to Ursuline College in a few weeks to study nursing.

The 2013 Mentor High graduate will play lacrosse at Ursuline, stretching a career that started in eighth grade. She also played basketball for the Cardinals.

Pachinger said she plans to stay involved in 4-H after she completes her activities later this month.

“Lake County has given me awesome opportunities,” she said before the queen was crowned Thursday night. “Growing up here is awesome. We’re very fortunate to grow up here. We have many options and I would like to see more kids getting involved with community service, and kids getting healthy, active.”

Pachinger said she hasn’t completely ruled out veterinary medicine. She said she deliberately picked nursing studies, because so much of that curriculum is what she’d need in veterinary studies, if she decides to make the switch.

Don’t miss a chance to say hello to this dynamic duo if you see them at the fair, which runs Aug. 13-18 in Painesville Township. One place you’ll almost certainly see them is at the crowning of the 2013 News-Herald Lake County Fair Commerce Queen on Aug. 15.

They’ll join us on stage as we place a crown atop the head of this year’s winner.

Take a minute to talk to them, and enjoy the enthusiasm for their hometown, for the Lake County Fair and for working and living in an environment that strives to mold good citizens and stewards of our future.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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