The Monroe County Fair got off to an elegant start Sunday, as the 60th annual Monroe County Fair Queen Pageant headlined the first day of the eight-day event.
Alexis Ruemker of rural Waterloo won the queen pageant.
“I was so surprised, but I was also very excited,” the 19-year-old daughter of Clem Ruemker and Cindy Rehmer-Ruemker said. “I’m very thankful for this opportunity and I can’t wait to see all the 4-H members showing their projects and their animals.”
Ruemker, who goes by Lexi, also won Miss Congeniality.
She is a 2018 Waterloo High School graduate. She just completed her freshman year at the University of Illinois, where she is majoring in agriculture education.
Ruemker is interning at the U of I Extension office and works in her family’s lawn care business, Rehmer-Ruemker Lawncare, which also sponsored her.
She has served in officer roles with both FFA and 4-H. Ruemker said that experience helped her in the pageant, which was particularly evident when she answered an extemporaneous on-stage question about what a farm needs to be successful.
“I think it helped just by kind of knowing the area we’re working with and knowing the people that I’m around – what they’re passionate about and what they care about,” she explained.
Ruemker, who wore a red dress with a sequin top, v-neckline and satin bottom, spoke about her experience teaching young students about agriculture this summer.
“Through education, we are creating our future business leaders, farmers and homeowners,” she said. “This is the reason why I choose to teach agriculture.”
Ruemker will serve as fair queen with 7-year-old Gabi Stumpf of Columbia as her Little Miss.
Stumpf is the daughter of Sarah and Matt Stumpf. She was sponsored by H.W. Stumpf Farm, Krueger Farms, Cocos Plumbing Co. and Too Blue Boutique.
During the Little Miss competition, Stumpf told the crowd that her favorite song is “Whiskey Glasses” by Morgan Wallen, even treating the audience to her rendition of the chorus.
She wore a blue floral print dress and pink cowboy boots.
Other contestants in the Little Miss Pageant were Avery Frierdich, Vivienne Goldschmidt, Skylar Newcom, Bentley Riebeling, Olivia Rusteberg, Maizy Scherle, Elyse Seidel, Caroline Turner and Kelsey Utz.
In the fair queen contest, Ruemker competed against six other young women, who all acquitted themselves well.
Julia Mannix, 17, spoke first. She is the daughter of John and Christina Mannix of Waterloo. She was sponsored by Wicked Smoke.
The Gibault Catholic High School student, who wore a light blue, fitted, embroidered, mermaid dress, talked about the importance of giving and receiving compliments.
“I highly encourage every one of you to give someone a compliment every day because you never know what other people could be going through,” she said. “It could make their day and they could remember it for a long time.”
Ruemker went next, followed by 18-year-old Skyler Barker of Waterloo.
She is the daughter of John and Heather Barker and was sponsored by Bountiful Blossoms.
The 2019 WHS graduate and St. Louis College of Pharmacy student, who wore a green, fitted dress with a v-neckline, geometric patterns and sequins, spoke about the importance of family.
“Whether it be gathered around a dinner table or playing each other in a best two out of three cornhole tournament, the place or activity doesn’t matter,” Barker said of her family. “What matters is the love, support and bond this family has built for me.”
Next up was Courtney Mosbacher, a 17-year-old from rural Prairie du Rocher.
The daughter of Steven and Doris Mosbacher, she was sponsored by the Midwest Bird & Animal Breeders and Association.
The 2019 Valmeyer High School graduate and Murray State University student, who wore a deep red dress with a v-neckline, beaded top and empire waist, discuss what agriculture means to her.
“For me, it means home – a place where I can join my local 4-H and FFA and spend time with those involved at the monthly meetings and the many events we attend, a place where there are family and friends who support you,” she said.
Heather Albers of Waterloo then took her turn. The 17-year-old is the daughter of Christine and Tim Albers and was sponsored by Baxmeyer Construction.
The WHS student, who wore a white dress with a beaded top and chiffon bottom, discussed the impact teachers have had on her and how that made her want to be a teacher.
“It is my turn to pay it forward and help the future of this community,” Albers said.
The penultimate speaker was 18-year-old Michaela Runge of Fults.
She is the daughter of Craig and Christine Runge and was sponsored by Corner George Inn Bed and Breakfast, where she works.
The 2019 WHS grad, who wore a royal blue, off-the-shoulder, ruffle sleeve dress, talked about why she wants to be a small business owner.
“I would like to contribute to (the love and support the community offers) by owning and operating my own small business,” she said. “I can almost guarantee, by just observing the small businesses already here and how they are doing so well, that mine will thrive alongside of theirs.”
The final speaker was Emily Coleman, a 19-year-old from Columbia.
The daughter of Michael Coleman and Cheryl LaRue, she was sponsored by At The Barre Dance Academy.
The 2018 Columbia High School graduate and sophomore at Southwestern Illinois College, who wore a powder blue dress with a halter neckline, lace and beaded detail and a chiffon bottom, spoke about why she wants to be a nurse.
“My dream is to one day work with children, specifically, because I believe it is important to maintain the bodies of our youths since they will one day be our future,” she said.
For more photos of the pageant, click here.