Fairest times four equals victory for newest royal

The 2023 Fairest of the Fair was crowned Aug. 31 at the Walworth County Fair, as Lillie Cauffman earned the title after three previous tries. Shown here from left are 2022 Fairest Jessica Markham, 2023 Fairest Cauffman and 2023 Fair Royalty Josie Vance. (Jennifer Eisenbart photo)

      For Elkhorn’s Lillie Cauffman, the fourth time was the charm.

      After running for the Walworth County Fairest of the Fair three times previously and serving as fair royalty twice, Cauffman, 21, was named the 2023 Fairest of the Fair Aug. 31 during the County Fair.

      She will serve her term starting after the state Fairest of the Fair competition in January of 2023. Until then, 2022 Walworth County Fairest of the Fair Jessica Markham will reign.

      Markham was on hand to crown her successor, who had previously been her competitor. Cauffman was reduced to tears after her name was announced as the winner on the Park Stage on the opening night of the fair.

      “This is a really big moment for me,” said Cauffman, who graduated from Elkhorn in 2019. “I feel so happy and proud of myself.”

      Contestants had to answer three on-stage interview questions – two talking about the Fairest of the Fair job and one making a pitch about an area of the fair visitors could explore.

      Cauffman and the other three contestants – Evelyn Harkness, Josie Vance and Leslie Reinke – also debuted their fair “commercials,” which were another part of the contest.

      As judges tabulated their scores, the four contestants had baskets they assembled as fundraisers auctioned off, earning between $350 and $750 for each basket.

      Cauffman had hoped to become Fairest of the Fair as a child. When she was a little girl, she tried the “Future Fairest of the Fair” competition at the fair – and was hooked immediately.

      She said she saw the competition as a chance to provide someone with the role model, like the Fairests were when she was young.

      “When I say role model, I mean being a representative of the county fair is something that some little girls always want to do,” she explained. “When you grow up in 4-H like I did, when you grow up showing animals, showing exhibits in the fair, you always want to be a representative of it.

      “Now you get to do it with a crown,” she added. “This has been a dream of mine.”

      After being a second runner-up two years in a row, Cauffman admitted that she almost didn’t come back for another try.

      “This has been a dream of mine,” she said. “I don’t give up.”

      Vance, 21, also of Elkhorn, was named as fair royalty. She is a 2020 graduate of Elkhorn Area High School.

According to fairest organizers, the Fairest of the Fair and Fair Royalty serve as the official hosts/hostesses and brand ambassador/representatives of the Walworth County Fair for their year of service.

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