LISBON - Along with a new grandstand at the Columbiana County Fair came new members of 4-H royalty.
The 4-H Royal Court unveiled its 2014 4-H King and Queen, James Kataro II of Salem and Courtney Hephner of Columbiana, during the fair's opening ceremonies at the Arnold C. Green Memorial Grandstand.
"This means a lot," Hephner said. "4-H has been a part of my life almost as long as I can remember. It's just such a great honor to have this."
Courtney Hephner is crowned 4-H queen at the Columbiana County Fair by last year's queen, Melinda Richey. (Salem News photo by Wayne Maris)
Hephner beat out five other 4-H girls for the crown while Kataro bested two other boys for the title.
The new king and queen both have nine years experience in their respective clubs. Hephner, a senior at Crestview, mentioned how she looked forward to the opportunity as a member of the Country Hands 4-H Club.
"I can remember as a little girl dreaming of this day," Hephner said. "For the reality that it's here hasn't actually sunk in yet."
Kataro, was surprised to receive the honor, credited his nine years with the Circle 62 4-H Club with being able to speak with others.
"4-H is really a big part," Kataro said. "It's really gotten me to be more outspoken. I used to be shy and not talk much, and now I talk a lot."
Kataro, who graduated from United and will attend Malone University in the fall for accounting, has been proud of his time spent with Circle 62, and strongly encourages children to join.
"I think the important thing is to get the kids involved and keep them out of trouble," Kataro said. "It's stuff that's really productive."
Hephner said she'll look back and remember how 4-H gave her chances to meet new people and make more friends.
"I think about how many people I've met just through the fair and how many friends that I've made," Hephner said. "It's just something beautiful that I'll cherish for the rest of my life."
Kataro and Hephner succeed last year's 4-H King and Queen, Curtis Veioch and Melinda Richey, who each received the Kathy Burbick Memorial Scholarship as their respective terms came to an end.
Also competing for the queen title were Holly Baer, a Crestview senior representing the Farmer's Pride 4-H Club; Hannah Foster, a senior at Minerva and nine-year member of the Rambunctious Rabbit Raisers; Hannah Jarvis, a West Branch senior and nine-year member of the Lone Rangers 4-H Club; Betty Richey, a Beaver Local senior and 13-year member of the Saddle-Lites 4-H Club; and Elaina Zehentbauer, a 10-year member of Kids N Kritters 4-H Club and 2014 graduate of United.
Elaina's brother, Vincent, was also part of the royal court as he competed for king. Vincent, a senior at United and nine-year member of the Kids N Kritters 4-H Club, also went up against Albert Ayers, a junior at the Buckeye Online School for Success and seven-year member of the A Little Bit Country 4-H Club.
The new king and queen, along with the rest of the 4-H court, will be on hand all week throughout the fair, which continues at 8 a.m. today.