A young lady with a deep appreciation for agriculture and the grit to overcome a serious injury reigned over the events of last week’s Lincoln County Fair.
McKenna Wilmes, daughter of Joe and Kelly Wilmes, of Silex, was selected in a field which included nine contestants at coronation ceremonies held July 6 at Bonfils Auditorium. She also won first place in the evening gown, resume, and speech competitions.
Wilmes, who graduated from Silex High School this May, will be a freshman at the University of Missouri-Columbia this fall. She will major in Agriculture Education and Leadership.
“My goal is to work for a public relations for a agricultural company,” she said.
She has been active in events at the county fair since age 9 through 4-H projects as member of the Olney Blue Skies and later through the Silex FFA. “I enjoyed showing horses while in 4-H and showing animals through the FFA,” she said.
Wilmes has been raised on a family farm with her twin brothers, Maverick and Malone, age 17 and sister McIntyre, age 14.
Wilmes is an active member of FFA, earning her State FFA degree. She has held chapter offices including secretary and vice-president for two years. She earned a State Equine Science placement proficiency award. She also served as the Area Five Association reporter and as president this past school year. She was also active in Student Council.
“My Ag classes really motivated me to pursue my love of agriculture,” she said. “Student Council showed me the skills to accomplish team goals.”
Another high school highlight, as a cheerleader, was helping cheer the girls last year during their successful quest for a state title. “That brought out the school and community pride,” she commented adding “working with the Green Guys was fun too.”
In 2009, she was selected as the Junior Miss Rodeo and the following year, as the Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri. “The interviewing process there helped me build self-confidence.”
She has been active since middle school with the S.A.F.E. school project. Several students, with the help of Chad Twellman, teacher and coach, help address the issue of teen drinking. “As a result, there were many activities held which promoted having fun without drinking,” she said. Those activities included a field trip, school dances, pizza nights and more. In recent months, S.A.F.E. has been working with D.A.R.T. professionals (police, court, health care professional counselors), helping expand the efforts to other county schools.
Wilmes said being part of the field of nine candidates was very rewarding.
“I knew several of the girls through FFA and cheerleading activities but now I think we have developed closer friendships,” she said. “From first planting flowers at the fairgrounds through the events leading up to the coronation, everyone helped each other get through this event.”
She named French, her FFA advisor and Austin Roper, horse trainer as two major influences in her life. “They took me out of my comfort zone and helped motivate me to achieve more in life.”
She also mentioned two close friends she lost as still being a part of her life. They are Trent Huber and Jillian Young who lost their lives during the past school year in auto accidents. “They are still with me and still touch the lives of many,” she added.
All her accomplishments may pale as she has overcame a personal, physicial challenge. On St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, she fractured her back in a horse accident. She spent several days in the hospital and later through physical therapy with Sandy Miller, to get back on her feet.
“I am honored to have been selected queen of the Lincoln County Fair,” Wilimes said. “I have always enjoyed both participating in and watching others enjoy the events.”
First runner-up went to Jessie Knox, daughter of Jim and Mickie Guthrie, of Elsberry. She also was cited for having the best interview. Second runner-up went to Kimberly Duggan, daughter of Jack and Denise Duggan, of Silex. Two contestants, Brittany Dickherber and Tiffany Hazelwonder tied for the Miss Congeniality award which is voted by the nine candidates. Brittany is the daughter of Joel and Kathy Dickherber, of Moscow Mills and Tiffany is the daughter of Ed and Shirley Hazelwonder, of Troy. Jayna Panhorst, daughter of Joel and Julie Panhorst, of Troy, won the talent competition and Miss Photogenic.