Vannus crowned fair queen/outstanding female 4-Her


By Melanie Yingst

For Miami Valley Today

TROY — Arianna Vannus has had a sweet start to the Miami County Fair.

On Friday, Aug. 11, Vannus was crowned the 2023 Miami County Fair Queen, but she was also tapped as the Outstanding Female 4-Her of the Year.

The 18-year-old graduate of Newton High School said both honors came as a complete shock. As she heard friends’ names being called for runner-up and attendants, Vannus said she had counted herself out as the top fair queen candidate.

“They all did so well, and I felt they did much better than I did, so when (Rep. Warren Davidson, R-OH) said my name, I was in shock,” she said. Vannus was shuffling back and forth to various fair events and livestock show rings Saturday afternoon, and there’s no other place she’d rather be.

“I love fair week. It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year,” she said. Vannus said one of her favorite parts of the Miami County Fair is hanging out with friends she’s met over the years through 4-H events and fair time.

“The fair is a time to get together and show off our hard work. It’s staying up way too late and then getting up way too early. Our conversations are hilarious, and they are what I’ll remember forever,” she said.

Vannus said watching the younger kids compete is a highlight of the Miami County Fair.

“Seeing the kids spend so much time and effort over the summer to bring their animals to these shows and seeing the joy on their faces when they win is special,” she said. “Even if they don’t win, they don’t care. They are out there having fun, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Vannus is a member of the Elizabeth Livestock 4-H Club. She shared how she got involved in 4-H, quickly breaking her family’s “no animal project rule” by helping family friends show goats, and she was hooked.

It was in the goat barn that Vannus wore her first fair crown as a goat princess. As the goat princess for a week, Vannus would follow 2017’s Miami County Fair Queen Abigail Hissong from show to show, passing out ribbons and checking in exhibitors. As Hissong reigned over her week at the fair, Vannus said she watched her interact with exhibitors and fair-goers which later solidified her goal of running for fair queen.

“Abby took me under her wing, and we hung out all week. and I thought, “I want to run for fair queen someday, and I want to be that role model for someone else,” she said.

Vannus will continue that tradition of warm well wishes and a friendly smile, whether it’s on stage, on the midway, or in the show ring during the week-long fair.

“I’m an outgoing person and I love talking to people, so I’m looking forward to all of it,” she said.

This year, Vannus opted to exhibit her accomplishments in shooting sports during her final 4-H year. A few years ago she stumbled upon that venture while exploring the archery area of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources exhibit with her brother while at the Miami County Fair.

Now, Vannus is a certified junior instructor and lends a helping hand to younger 4-H members in her club and at various shooting skill events. She placed second in a state-wide hunting skills competition, and this year she received an Outstanding Award in Archery at the state fair.

Vannus shared how she had never hunted game or learned to shoot a gun prior to learning through the 4-H programs.

“I love it. I didn’t grow up hunting or shooting guns, but I love it. There’s just something about it that’s so fun and challenging,” she said. “I went through the same training as senior instructors, and I love helping the kids in my club with their shooting sport projects.”

Following the county fair, Vannus will study aeronautical engineering at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.

But before she leaves, she’ll grab her favorite Miami County Fair dish — an ice-cold milkshake from the dairy bar.

“My favorite fair food is a chocolate-strawberry milkshake,” she said, noting it’s not on the official menu, but it’s a fun twist on her favorite fair classic. “I order a strawberry milkshake and ask them to use chocolate milk instead; it tastes just like a chocolate-covered strawberry. It’s amazing.”

Vannus is the daughter of Harry and Mary Vannus of Pleasant Hill.

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