FAIR HILL — The Cecil County Farm Bureau scholarship competition at this year’s Cecil County Fair will look much the same, with one noticeable difference.
The big change is that this year the contest is being rebranded, with the winners to be named Cecil County Farm Bureau Ambassadors — rather than Cecil County Farm Queens — and there will be both a male and female winner in each level.
Contestants will still be drawn from families that are members of the Farm Bureau, and will introduce themselves when the contest begins at 2 p.m. on July 25. There will be a junior and senior level competition for those 12 to 21.
It’s not a new idea. In 2003 the Maryland State Fair proposed a gender neutral contest where both young men and women could compete. When the change was initially brought to Cecil County, it did not go well: as no young men signed up.
In 2004, Holly Turner, then the reigning Miss Cecil County Farm Bureau, spearheaded the addition of the junior level winner, saying there was a need to spread out the workload and ceremonial duties.
Katlynn Larrimore, spokeswoman for the Cecil County Farm Bureau competition, said this new contest will be a more inclusive event that offers the winners a chance for more growth and development.
“Before it was just a cutesy thing. Now we really want this person to represent the Farm Bureau and tell people why you should be a member,” Larrimore said. As is tradition, contestants will be quizzed on their knowledge of agriculture both locally and nationally.
Contest winners receive small gifts and scholarship money.
“We won’t do flowers or a sash,” she said, adding winners will instead receive a name tag.
Larrimore said young people 12-16 years of age would compete at the junior level while those 17-21 can compete for senior honors.
“We are allowing former farm queens to run,” she added, noting that often times the outgoing Miss Cecil County Farm Bureau mourns the loss of the title and all that it provided.
The county senior winner will advance to the statewide competition held at the Maryland State Fair. The state winner advances to the national competition, as it has been for decades.
“It’s a big deal at the National Farm Bureau level,” Larrimore said. “But there it’s called a Discussion Meet.”
The deadline to enter the Cecil County Farm Bureau Ambassador Competition is fast approaching. Larrimore said she is hearing a lot of chatter about the new competition but so far there are no contestants.
That deadline is July 10. Get the application and more information at the “1st Annual Cecil County Farm Bureau Ambassador Contest” Facebook page.