Indiana crowns unlikely fair queen
By Eric Deines
Miss Indiana State Fair is not as glamorous a position as it may sound.
Photo provided by the Indiana State Fair
In August 2004, Keela Roser, a Purdue University sophomore majoring in natural resources and environmental science, was crowned Miss Indiana State Fair.
While Miss America is flown around the nation for major interviews and to rub elbows with celebrities, Miss Indiana State Fair must pose for photos just feet from piles of manure or amongst stalls full of hogs.
"The crown is giving me the most trouble at the moment," said Keela Roser, the Purdue University sophomore natural resources and environmental science major from North Manchester, Ind., who was named Miss Indiana State Fair in August. "It's heavier than anyone would believe. It put a dent in my head."
Unlike some little girls in 4-H, Roser never used to daydream about being a fair queen as she showed her sheep and horses. "I was a complete farm girl, a tomboy," Roser said. "I really only entered the competition for some interview experience. I couldn't believe I won." Those who know Roser were a little surprised as well. "Keela is not Barbie," said Amy Lybarger, a family friend. "She probably tore her Barbie up."
Instead of pageants and crowns, Roser became interested in surveying waterways and testing soil through both a cousin and Lybarger, both district conservationists, as well as Purdue alumni. "I job-shadowed both of them," Roser said. "And right away, it was a field that struck a chord with me. I really enjoyed traveling around the county, surveying waterways and crop fields."
After she graduates, Roser plans on pursuing a career as a district conservationist. District conservationists sample waterways and soil to look for ways to promote natural resource conservation and development.
At the beginning of 2005, as she balanced a full academic load at Purdue, Roser began her travels to promote the 2005 Indiana State Fair. Between June and July, she will travel more than 6,000 miles, visiting 35 county fairs. "Things are pretty normal and calm right now," Roser said last September. "But next semester will be chaos. It's going to take some careful time management."
In January, Roser's duties as Indiana State Fair Queen began with an appearance at the Indiana Association of County and District Fairs Convention. "The workload is a little intimidating," Roser said. "But I'm pretty confident I'll be able to hold everything down."