The 2011 Clay County 4-H Fair Queen and Princess want to lead by example, living life with a song in their heart, a spring in their step and a kind word on their lips.
"I hope to set a good example for the younger generation, so that little girls and others can look up to me as a good role model," 19-year-old Queen Emilie Gottsche said.
Gottsche's passions include the love of dance, animals and people.
"I love dancing. It's one of my biggest hobbies and I've been doing it my whole life," she said. "My favorite genre is modern dance."
In August, Gottsche will begin her sophomore year at Indiana State University, where she's studying Exercise Science in preparation to become a physical therapist.
The 2010 Northview High School graduate minors in dance and participates in the ISU dance team "Fusion," directed by Teresa McCullough.
During her high school career, Gottsche performed with the Northview color guard and winter guard under the direction of Bob and Ruth Ann Medworth.
While in color guard, Gottsche and her team took home state championships in 2009 and 2010, and won eighth-place at the Winter Guard International in 2007.
The pageant queen says this isn't her first time competing in the fair pageant.
"I ran for princess in 2006 and received first-runner-up," Gottsche told The Brazil Times. "I wanted to run for queen to improve my interview skills and public speaking."
Her 4-H experience includes showing dogs, goats and beef cows.
"I've always had a huge love for animals and it's my favorite part of the fair," Gottsche said. "I love coming to see and work with them."
Her involvement in 4-H was inspired by her former elementary school teacher.
"I got started in 4-H when my fifth-grade teacher, Martha Knox, encouraged me to do it," Gottsche explained. "She told me I should, so I did."
Gottsche said she's gained valuable lessons participating in the fair.
"Throughout the different animal shows, I've learned tons about the animals and how they are shown. I didn't realize how much went into judging and how they are shown. I am really glad I got the experience," she added.
In addition to graceful moving and 4-H, Gottsche is careful to treat others with the kindness and respect, and even those around her testify about her caring personality.
"My daughter is very approachable, easy-to-talk-to and kind-hearted," Emilie's mother Mary Gottsche said. "She's somewhat of a people-pleaser and very nurturing. She definitely puts others before herself."
Emilie said having her type of personality is a blessing and a curse.
"Being a people-pleaser often leaves you unsatisfied, and yet you know you've made someone else happy, so there's a sense of joy to come from that," Gottsche said. "It's hard to understand those who aren't the same way and don't put others first."
Emilie is also very family oriented and spends most of her free time with family and friends.
She is the daughter of Rick and Mary Gottsche, Brazil, and the granddaughter of Clyde and Eva Gottsche and Tom and Margy Miller, Brazil.
In addition to serving as a role model for Clay County youth, Emilie is a role model to her 11-year-old brother Garrison and Clay County 4-H Fair Princess Taylor Simmons, 15.
"Emilie and I didn't know each other at all before the pageant, but this pageant has brought us together," Simmons explained. "Now I feel like I've known her for years."
Simmons told The Brazil Times she and Emilie have a lot in common.
Like Gottsche, Simmons also shares a love for the performing arts, except instead of dancing, Simmons sings.
"What makes me different is being silly and acting crazy, even if thousands of people are watching," the soon-to-be Northview High School sophomore said. "I love to sing karaoke, especially anything by Carrie Underwood, Taylor Swift or Miranda Lambert. I even walk around the store singing sometimes."
Simmons has never had private lessons or formal instruction, but she's an alto in the Northview mixed choir and sings everywhere she goes.
"I sang karaoke the other night in the horse and pony barn and had a lot of fun," the princess said.
In addition, Simmons, like Gottsche, said she values being a role model to others.
"I hope I accomplish being a good leader while holding this title, and that next year when I have to give my crown away, I hope people still look up to me," Simmons said.
Her 4-H endeavors include showing horses and archery using compound bows.
Outside of 4-H, Simmons previously participated in cheerleading, drama club and other pageants as a child.
"This pageant changed me a lot, and I realized how down-to-earth and how sweet all the girls really are. Sometimes girls can be a lot of drama, but this pageant wasn't like that," Simmons said.
She added becoming "royalty" isn't as easy as one might think.
"You have to grow up and become a role model. You have to look the judges in the eye and wait for them to tell you when to be seated," Simmons explained. "The other difficult part is trying to be in so many different places at once for so many different events. Emilie has really taken me under her wing and took care of me this week by helping me if she knew I was getting too fatigued."
Simmons told The Brazil Times her favorite part of the fair has been the pig show.
"It's fun getting to be out there with the pigs and helping the people out. I got to ride on about 10 pigs today," she said jokingly.
Simmons spends her free time with family and going to the movies with friends.
She is the daughter of Joey and April Simmons, Brazil, and the granddaughter of Joe Simmons, Clay City, Sandra Maze, West Virginia, Mel Keidol, Brazil, and Mike Wagle, Terre Haute.
Taylor enjoys studying history, but is making plans to attend Indiana University after high school to become a pediatrician.
The fair queen and princess both encourage other young women to take part in future Clay County 4-H Fair pageants.
"It doesn't matter how pretty you are or how talkative you are, as long as you're having a good time, you'll be fine," Simmons said. "Be yourself and have fun."
"If you're apprehensive about doing the pageant, don't be," Gottsche said. "It's really a fun experience that helps you in so many ways. You can learn how to present yourself well, make lots of friends, learn hair and make-up tricks and become a better public speaker."
Both girls plan to continue competing in pageants after their experiences with the Clay County 4-H Fair.
Gottsche will compete for Miss Indiana at the Indiana State Fair Aug. 21.
"I want to go with a hopeful and positive attitude, but not be overly confident that the crown is mine," Gottsche said. "I want to do my best and have fun while I'm there because this is a once in a lifetime experience."
Simmons said she plans to take a short break before jumping back on the pageant saddle.
"I plan to run for queen, but not this year," the queen hopeful said. "As princess this year, I will have responsibility next year and it may get a little complicated if I ran for queen with all the wardrobe changes."
Besides having a busy schedule, fair pageant royalty also have a responsibility to the community. Gottsche is always being approached by younger girls wanting to talk, and she takes the time to acknowledge and converse with them.
"Being a good fair queen is all about the heart," Gottsche said.