CHARLESTON — Mason County native, Emma Rice, was named Second Runner-Up at the West Virginia Association Fairs and Festivals (WVAFF) Pageant last weekend.
Rice, who graduated from Point Pleasant High School and is a dental hygiene major at West Virginia University, represented the Paw Paw District Fair during the pageant.
The Paw Paw District Fair takes place in July in Rivesville in Marion County. Rice said its main attractions are a demolition derby and a mud-bog.
Many of the state’s fairs and festivals participate in the association and will send their queens to the WVAFF pageant in January.
“Fairs and Festivals is a major association within West Virginia,” Rice said. “It is really instituted to promote tourism within our state. So it keeps people informed about various fairs and festivals that our state has to offer.”
The WVAFF queen reigns over the state fair and participates in fairs throughout the state.
This was Rice’s third year participating in the Fairs and Festivals pageant. In 2018, Rice was placed in the top 15. In 2019, she was in the top 16, after the committee added the people’s choice award. In 2020, there were 90 queens representing fairs and festivals throughout the state of West Virginia.
Rice said this was her highest placement competing against that many people.
“Being in the top five was very overwhelming,” Rice said. “It was very fulfilling to know that the hard work that I do throughout the year — preparing myself for interviews and on stage and things like that — really came full circle and I got to reap the benefits of that.”
In 2019, Rice competed in two pageants. She said once you claim an association title, you don’t compete for the rest of the year until WVAFF in January. During the state pageant, queens from throughout the state compete in categories such as interviews, event promotion and evening gowns.
“It was a very busy weekend,” Rice said, “but it reminded me that the people that I was there to represent, the people of Rivesville, were behind me 100 percent. Although I was representing Rivesville, I was also representing my hometown of Point Pleasant and Mason County.”
Due to age limits, Rice said 2020 is her last year to compete for an association title. The age requirements for WVAFF is 16-21.
“There are things that I have put into the works for 2020,” Rice said. She also said that she has an interest in competing in the Miss West Virginia USA contest after she graduates college.
As for the rest of her reign as the Paw Paw District Fair Queen, Rice is looking forward to the spring demolition derby and helping with the Miss Ability pageant in May.
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.