By Joyce L. Ritchie
The Ashland County Fair opened with sunny skies for the opening ceremonies, the dedication of the new Cheyenne Spidel Memorial Pavilion, and the announcement of the Junior Fair King and Queen of the fair. Following introductions and interviews, this year's Junior Fair royal court was announced after the visiting royalty of other fairs were introduced.Selected as the 2015 Ashland County Junior Fair Queen was Natalee Blackford of Ashland. She is 17 years of age and the daughter of Kathy Blackford and Barry Blackford. The Ashland High School senior has been very involved in her community, school and 4-H activities, serving as a club officer, State4-H Ambassador, and on the 4-H Food and Fashion Board among an impressive list of additional activities. Selected as the 2015 Ashland County Junior Fair King was Adam Dillard of Polk. He is 16 years of age and the son of Scott and Stacey Dillard. The Mapleton High School junior is an active member of his 4-H club, the MHS Band, Cross Country team, and baseball team, earning the 'Mr. Hustle Award'. Selected to serve as the Queen's First Runner-Up was Kate McGovern of Jeromesville. She is 17 years of age and the daughter of Kent and Sheri McGovern. The Hillsdale High School senior serves as an officer in her 4-H club and is a member of the Junior Fair board and the Hillsdale FFA. She is known in the dairy industry being the recipient of the State Fair Dairy Cattle Exhibitors Scholarship and attendee of the National 4-H Dairy Conference. Selected to serve on the Queen's Court were three fine ladies: Tabitha Ayers, 16 years of age, of Ashland, the daughter of Charles Ayers and Connie Moss, an Ashland High School junior, and active in her 4-H club and FFA chapter; Vanessa Pauly, 16 years of age, of Ashland is the daughter of Doug and Nancy Pauly, a junior at Ashland High School, club officer, member of the 4-H Food and Fashion Board, awarded the Community Service Award in the Miss Ashland Bicentennial Queen Pageant and a participant in the Citizenship Washington Focus; Emily Wesner at 17 years of age, of Ashland, and is the daughter of Martin and Jennifer Wesner, a senior at Ashland High School, is active in 4-H, FFA, athletics, and school clubs. Selected to serve as the King's Runner-Up was Eric Dillard, of Polk. He is 16 years of age, the son of Scott and Stacey Dillard, junior at Mapleton High School, and the twin brother of Adam. He is a 4-H and FFA member, and track and cross country runner, and recipient of the 2013 Most Improved Runner Award for the 2013 team. Baylin Thompson of Ashland was selected to serve on the King's court. He is 18 years of age and the son of Chad and Amy Thompson and graduate of Ashland High School. The 4-H club member also serves on the Junior Fair Board Core Committee and goat sub-committee. He enjoys trouble shooting engines, hunting, and fishing. Cathy Rice was the contest coordinator. Matt Miller was the emcee with assistance of the 2014 Queen Bailee Tucker and King Mark Gorsuch. The judge's decision was made prior to the fair. Abby Motter, the 2013 Ashland County Fair Queen, was recognized for her continued research and presentation to the fair of a scrapbook of the former royalty and a banner listing their names.