Countless little girls dream of growing up and becoming a princess or maybe even a queen, but few every really get the chance to see such dreams.
It was a year ago that Barnesville resident Shelby Childress began to live her childhood dream, that one day she would wake up and find out she had suddenly become a queen with a royal court and a magical kingdom to oversee for a time.
One year ago, she was publicly crowned as the 2012-13 Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Queen, making her the 48th such young lady to serve in this capacity.
The royal court from the 2012 Barnesville Pumpkin Festival included, from left, Queen Shelby Childress, Mini Miss Grace Detling, and Princess Savanna Mayhugh. Childress, the 48th Queen, will soon be handing over her title to her successor, who will be the 49th Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Queen serving during the 50th anniversary year of the popular event.
Very soon, she will be handing over her title and royal duties to her successor, who will be the 49th Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Queen, and she will serve during the 50th anniversary year of the popular event.
This honor has come to the Union Local High School graduate at a busy time in her life, as she begins her collegiate career at Wheeling Jesuit University in pursuit of a nursing degree, but she has treasured each experience of her reign.
When crowned the queen of the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival, it was her second effort made in pursuit of that coveted title, as she had been selected first runner up during the previous year's competition.
Childress resides in Barnesville with her mother Teacey Childress and Dr. Michael A. Baum. Her father is Gary Childress of Lewisville.
The Wheeling Jesuit University freshman is looking forward to the upcoming competition with a heart filled with bittersweet emotions and with great appreciation for having been selected to represent her beloved hometown in this iconic role for the past year.
"Amazing" is her go-to word when asked for a brief description of what this opportunity has meant to her.
To describe the pace of everyday life that goes with being Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Queen might best be summed up with the word "busy."
But it has been an experience enabling her not only to have a greater appreciation for life in Barnesville, but also for the everyday joys of daily life in other communities across Ohio - communities where festival traditions focusing on various aspects of daily life are celebrated.
"As Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Queen, I have taken part in 23 other festivals in communities across Ohio this past year," Childress offered in a moment of reflection, recently referencing the many and varied experiences afforded young ladies chosen to represent a community in such a manner.
One of the traditions she will literally be able to have with her as she moves forward and helps crown the next Barnesville Pumpkin Festival Queen is a unique charm bracelet with customized charms on them representing an individual festival and its parade she has been able to take part in over this past year.
Over the course of her reign, Childress has traveled more than 5,400 miles specifically to take part in other communities' festivals and parades as she represented her hometown.
The selection process that will culminate in the crowning of the 49th queen of the highly popular festival will actually begin tomorrow, as the competition phase of the activity gets underway.
Key aspects of the day's activities will include the interview process, which allows judges to directly interact with the contestants.
It will also provide time for the popular group photo to be taken.
At 5 p.m. Sunday in the auditorium at Barnesville High School, the local tradition will officially move into the next year's efforts as the new queen is selected and announced at the close of the day's activities.
At a special luncheon set for Sunday, Sept. 28, Childress will enjoy the company of the other festival queens from across Ohio whose parades and festivities she has take part in supporting, and then a parade will be held in Barnesville.
At the luncheon, she will share a farewell address with her peers.
"Throughout my travels this past year, I have learned many things about the history of the state of Ohio, and have been able to enjoy opportunities to share with others the things that make my hometown of Barnesville and the Barnesville Pumpkin Festival so special. I love my hometown, but through this experience, I have come to gain an even better appreciation for it," offered Childress, noting none of these opportunities would be available without the dedication of the festival committee, the pageant committee and the support of family and friends.
"It has been an honor and privilege representing my hometown."
Loccisano can be reached at email@example.com