Ellie Twedt is used to winning when she runs, and even though running for Story County Fair Queen was different than her usual distance running feats, she came out on top in this contest as well.

This past Saturday evening, at the Story County Youth Fair, Twedt, the Ballard High School distance runner who took fifth place individually at the state cross country meet last year, was crowned the 2019 Story County Fair Queen.

She was still a little shocked by her victory when talking about it after all the hugs and photo-taking that happens following the crowning was finished. “I didn’t expect this,” said Twedt, who competed in the largest group of candidates to run for the queen in recent history at 10.

“I felt good in my interview (with the judges), but I didn’t think I was going to win,” she said.

Twedt, the daughter of Wade and Holly Twedt, has an Elkhart address but has always attended Ballard Schools, where she’ll be a senior this year. Her family lived in Huxley when she started school, she said, and she never wanted to go anywhere else. In 4-H, she’s a member of the Palestine Peppy Pushers, and she’s also very active in the Ballard FFA, which came into existence right before she got into high school. She’s currently the treasurer of Ballard’s FFA, and has been grateful for the program.

“I think it’s a really great group and allows me to try different things. It also gives other kids, who live in town, a chance to try different things and be involved in agriculture,” she said of the FFA program.

With 4-H and the county and state fairs, Twedt’s main activity has been showing pigs. She’s been doing it since she was in eighth grade.

“Every summer, I’ve gotta go out and walk the pigs after I run,” she said. She’s as committed to her pigs as she is to her distance running.

Now, as one of the Iowa State Fair Queen candidates, she has more than just her pigs to think about when it comes to the Iowa State Fair in August.

“I’m excited to make new connections (with the other county and local fair queens),” she said. She heard they get to do a makeup workshop, which sounded fun. “I’m really excited for it all … and I really don’t know what to expect. It’s going to be a new experience.”

First runner-up in the Story County Queen contest Anna Babcock, a 2019 graduate of Gilbert High School, said Twedt will do great with all that’s ahead of her in the State Fair competition. “I’m really proud of her,” said Babcock, who was so close to being crowned herself. Babcock was the Gilbert FFA president and a district FFA officer this past year. She said she took part in the fair queen competition to “make new friends, make relationships” and to develop a greater understanding of herself.

Those are many of the things that Twedt said when asked why she participated in the fair queen contest. “I really joined to meet more people and to meet people outside of the swine barn. I also wanted to improve my communication skills and gain interviewing skills.”

Twedt said there are many people to thank when it comes to her fair queen win. Fair queen superintendents Anna Sheets and Abby Maxwell, she said, “were really great. They really keep it laid back and fun” for all those competing.

She thanks her parents for encouraging her to try new things. And with her father being out of town during the fair weekend, she thanks her Grandpa Kenny Twedt for being her escort for the coronation.

There’s a lot ahead of Twedt this coming year. Not only will she reign as the county’s fair queen, but she’ll also be finishing her high school career, competing in her last cross country and track seasons and closing out all the other activities she’s involved in. After that, she is planning on going to college to study something in agriculture. She’s not sure yet where she’ll go to college, but said nearby Iowa State University is still in the running.

For now, it’s onto the Iowa State Fair in a few short weeks, and most important to Twedt is how she represents Story County.

“I want to represent our county by being genuine, hard-working and committed to trying new things, and I want to share an excitement for developing agriculture across our state.”