At the Friday night Ranch Rodeo Show at the 2012 Hillsborough County Fair, the newly crowned Harvest Queen, Kallee Cook, accompanied by the Junior Harvest Queen, Haley Tomlin, talked about their love of the fair and their passion for agriculture.
"I've had a great time representing the Hillsborough County Fair, it's a real honor to be recognized as the Harvest Queen," said Cook, 18, a freshman at Hillsborough Community College.
One of her favorite undertakings, she said, is talking to kids about the fair, and especially to preschool children for whom the outing is a first-time event.
Five best things about the fair?
"Entertainment, the rides, the foods, it's family oriented and just the joyful event," Cook answered without skipping a beat.
Don't forget, though, the livestock shows, she agreed.
"I showed Angus cattle for 11 years, so I guess you could say I've been raised in a barn," Cook said.
After selling her first four cattle, Cook said she got to raise cattle for breeding, "so I don't have to say goodbye to them." She still remembers, though, how tough it is to sell the animals you raise for slaughter, especially at first.
"My first two I got really [choked up]," she said. "My last two I thought, one, they're going to someone else's house [for people] to eat, and two, I get the money to help send me off to college."
Riley, 13, is an eighth-grader at Tomlin Middle School in Plant City.
"Without agriculture we wouldn't be able to survive," she said. "We need to keep this tradition going for our youth. It's slowly fading, and I want to keep it going."
Fairs such as the one in Hillsboroug County "are definitely one of the best ways of doing that," Riley said, "because half of the fair is related to agriculture completely."