One ascended from junior prince in the matter of a year, while the other did all she could to hold back tears after receiving her crown.
Colin Shankle and Cheyenne Van Echo earned the titles of king and queen, respectively, Friday night at the annual 4-H royalty contest at The Great Frederick Fair, and both wasted no time before expressing their respect for what lies ahead now that Fair Week is in full gear.
“I’m as ready as you can be,” Van Echo said after securing her queendom, still smiling from the announcement. “For now, all I can say is that the stress and the hard work paid off.”
“Other kings have survived in the past,” Shankle added, “so I feel like I can survive this one.”
Shankle and Van Echo each received a $1,000 scholarship for their victories, while Joshua Baker and Kelly Blahut took home $500 scholarships for being elected prince and princess for the 2019-2020 royalty court.
Madison Spurrier and her younger brother, Zachary Spurrier, relinquished their crowns from the year they spent as king and queen by reflecting on some of their favorite memories before the new regime was announced.
“I hope you have as much fun as I did as queen,” Madison said in a moment of advice for Van Echo. “Go out of your comfort zone.”
“Try something new this year,” Zachary encouraged, “and enjoy the ride.”
Van Echo, 15, gave arguably the most expansive answer of the evening after pulling from a fishbowl of questions that each contestant faced. When asked about her most memorable experience in 4-H, she reflected on how because she was the oldest child in her family, she was the first to acquire the skills the organization offers to its members.
It was rough at first, she said, because she wasn’t as outgoing or social as she would like to be. Before long, though, she was helping a fellow 4-H’er use a shovel, encouraging him not to give up on a project, watching as his face lit up at the progress he was making.
Shankle, meanwhile, stressed how far the tentacles of the organization extend, even if its reputation might suggest otherwise to some.
“It’s more than you ever imagined,” the 15-year-old said, citing one of the club’s slogans. “And that’s very true. The first thing people think of is the animals, but you could have anything you can dream of in 4-H.”
The decision wasn’t an easy one to make, said Patty Sanville, one of the three judges for the evening. And while only two contestants could walk away queen and king, she noted how everyone was deserving of recognition regardless of how the event concluded.
“It’s a great group of kids,” she said. “Everybody always brings something different to the table.”
As for the new leaders of the court, both Shankle and Van Echo were eager to note how ready they are for the year in front of them.
“I’m excited to represent and be the face of 4-H this year,” Van Echo said.
“I will not let you down and I know the queen will not let you down also,” Shankle said. “I feel like we can get a lot of stuff done.”