Grace McCarty Crowned Johnson County Fair Queen
Writer / Renee Larr
Photography Provided by Madelyn Sponsel
The Johnson County Fair Queen Contest is a long-standing tradition. Each young woman selected must be an active member of 4-H, poised and well-spoken. Grace McCarty, a 17-year-old senior at Center Grove High School, was chosen as the 2022 Johnson County Fair Queen on July 17.
Grace is a nine-year member of 4-H, and shows pigs. Each year she raises pigs from February or March until fair time. McCarty raised two from the same litter this year. Wilbur and Bubbles, both spot pigs, are about 250 pounds each.
“When Bubbles was little she would blow bubbles, so I thought the name Bubbles fit her,” Grace says. “I treat my pigs very well. To me they’re like humans. Every Sunday I would get them doughnuts. I trained them to walk using marshmallows. They were probably some of the best I’ve ever had.”
Her queen responsibilities include handing out ribbons at the animal shows, taking photos with fair guests, handing out popsicles on the midway and participating in a princess tea with young children.
At the end of the fair, all the pigs go to auction. The animal meat goes to a food pantry to provide food to those residents with food insecurity. Grace says it’s tough letting them go each year, but knowing they go to a good cause makes it a little easier.
The Greenwood resident grew up admiring the Johnson County Fair Queens. Her parents were thrilled when she was crowned. They watched how hard she worked throughout the years and were proud of her commitment.
“She put in so much hard work, and she pursued it with so much grace and competence,” says Jennifer McCarty, Grace’s mother. “She set her mind to it and leaned into it through her faith. We were thrilled for her.”
Each potential queen must prepare a speech. Grace’s speech was about something very close to her heart – her relationship with her pigs. The well-spoken teen gave a relatable and confident speech about how animals are treated.
“In today’s day and age we lose sight of how important animals really are in our society,” Grace says. “I made it clear in my speech that these animals deserve care and respect, the way human beings do. That was something significant to me.”
Grace plans to participate in 4-H throughout her last year of high school. As the Johnson County Fair Queen Contest winner, she will participate in the Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant.
“I will have to prepare another speech about a given topic,” Grace says. “I don’t know the topic yet but I’m just getting ready. Participating is such a great opportunity and a dream of mine. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Grace plans to graduate early from high school. Her number-one school choice is Liberty University in Virginia. She says she’s undecided on a major, but is considering business or animal science. She’s grateful for the opportunities and the friendships the queen contest has provided to her.
“The best thing about being crowned was all the good friends I’ve made,” Grace says. “It’s really nice meeting people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I want to inspire younger girls to be themselves. I want them to know they’re equal to everyone else, and encourage them to join the contest. It’s so much fun and you gain great skills you can use outside of 4-H.”
Grace says she had a great support system from her family and friends throughout the entire process. She celebrated with hugs and pictures with those who showed up to cheer her on.
For more information on the Johnson County Fair Queen Contest, visit facebook.com/johnsoncountyfairqueencontest.