By Argen Duncan: PNT senior writer
This year’s Roosevelt County Fair Queen remembers camaraderie, busyness and fun at the New Mexico State Fair Queen competition, right along with Wranglers slung over beds and clouds of hairspray.
“Our dorms, if you would have lit a match in there, it would have blown up,” Samantha Grider of Portales said.
Although she didn’t win the title, Grider said she enjoyed the experience.
“I worked very hard from the county level to get to the state level,” she said.
However, Grider pointed to a number of people who loaned her jewelry and clothes, gave money she didn’t ask for and provided advice and chances to practice her interview and speech.
“Without that help, I wouldn’t have been able to do half as well with half as much confidence up there,” she said.
The state fair queen competition lasted for three days and involved a packed schedule that ran from 6 a.m., not counting the time it took to get ready for the day, to 10 p.m.
The 13 young women competing for the title had a meal with the New Mexico State Fair Commission, rode in rodeo grand entries, saw country singer Billy Currington in concert and more. They competed against each other in horsemanship, an interview, a speech and modeling.
Although Grider had never been to the State Fair before, she saw “literally everything over there,” she said.
Grider said her favorite experience was the night she and the other queen contestants signed each other’s queens programs in their dorm.
“We had just grown so close together,” she said. “I adored all of those girls.”
Despite warnings Grider received about contestants trying to sabotage each other, she found the all the prospective fair queens were willing to help each other.
Grider recalls another time when a little girl tugged on her shirt and said, “I want to be you when I grow up.” Grider stopped and talked with the youngster and her mother.
“I was very honored,” she said.
Quaylene Parkey, Grider’s grandmother who attended the State Fair with her, said she thought everyone knew that Roosevelt County was represented, and she was proud of all the competitors.
“I think it was an amazing experience for Sam,” she also said.
Although Grider said she was pleased with her performance and had fun, she doesn’t plan to compete again. However, she said she would like to help future contestants.
The Roosevelt County Fair Queen competition is being moved to Heritage Days next year, Parkey said.