OSKALOOSA — Hannah Koellner, of Eddyville, has had a life-changing experience at the Iowa State Fair.
The 18-year-old graduate of Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont High School was crowned as the 56th Iowa State Fair queen on Monday, July 15.
She was one of 102 contestants vying for the crown of Iowa State Fair Queen.
Days after the coronation, Koellner said she still could not explain what it feels like to be crowned.
"It is absolutely the most honoring, humbling, exciting, life-changing thing that has happened to me," she said. "It truly is amazing and I'm just honored that I get to represent not only Mahaska County but our state."
Koellner said she's received nothing but great support from the people of Mahaska County
Koellner said she could hardly believe it when the crown was placed on her head.
"I was just thinking pretty 'oh my gosh, is this me, is this happening?' So surreal and kind of unbelievable," she said. "It all just felt like I dream. I never imagined it was going to be me, because you're with 102 amazing girls throughout Iowa, that they deserve it just as much as me. I honestly was speechless."
Monday was packed full for Koellner. Starting at 7 a.m., with breakfast with the Des Moines city council, she got her new cowboy boots, was interviewed at WHO studios, was interviewed by Iowa Public Television, saw the veterans at the parade, passed out some ribbons and at around 5:30 p.m., she had a moment to take a breath following the market lamb show. Later, she was headed to a dinner with the fair board.
Koellner said she thinks throughout the whole process that she will continue to "grow so much" and find out more about who she is.
"I hope that I can honestly make a positive impact on everyone I see," she said, "and communicate with and just keep pushing towards fulfilling my dreams."
Koellner is the daughter of Jim and Kim Koellner, of Eddyville. In high school, she was active in color guard, football cheerleading, basketball, golf, baseball managing, Junior Red Cross, student council, youth group, National Honor Society, FFA and was a member of Steppin' Out competitive dance team.
Her community activities included being a Ruritan and a girl scout, volunteered with Sunday school, a volunteer at Christian Opportunity Center and Kids Against Hunger, was a Southern Iowa Fair volunteer and was a volunteer at James Elementary, helping children learn to read.
Koellner received a $5,000 scholarship from the State of Iowa Governor's Office, along with a $3,000 scholarship from the Iowa State Fair. Additionally, she will treasure her crown, sash and trophy.
According to a press release from the Iowa State Fair, she received other gifts, including an Iowa State Fair Brick from the Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation.
Iowa State Fair queen contestants are judged on their personality, attitude, awareness, leadership, citizenship, contributions to the community, overall appearance, charm and poise.
Koellner plans to attend William Penn University, majoring in elementary education while minoring in reading, special education, and business. She plans to be part of the university's competitive dance team.
Managing Editor Angie Holland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @OskyAngie.