It was only 3 p.m. in the afternoon, but the line was several hundred feet long at the Jackson County Fair, just outside the 4-H exhibit building. This large, sprawling fairground, home to one of the best county fairs in Indiana, also played host to a favorite daughter Monday. Twenty-three year old Katie Stam, crowned Miss America in January, returned to the fairgrounds where she competed in cattle shows during her 4-H career. She sandwiched the trip in between an appearance in California on Sunday and a trip to Puerto Rico on Tuesday,
Her trip home to the county fair where her 4-H career began didn't just happen. When she was elected, Don Cummings, Brownstown, a dentist in Seymour, a landowner and a small farmer, heard her say that the only downside was that she wouldn't be able to go to the county fair this year. Cummings decided to do something about it. A fair board member, he worked with other fair officials and local businessmen to make her trip possible.
"You start at the bottom and go through the chain of command," he relates. "That's what we did and it paid off. Her schedule is very full and they keep her under wraps, but in the end, I know getting to come here meant a lot to her."
While the dairy cattle show wasn't in progress, her mom and dad led one of the family's dairy heifers to the Pavilion where she greeted the crowd and answered questions. Stam posed with the Holstein. She also earlier climbed atop a Farmall Super M in the antique tractor display that just happened to belong to her father.
"It was the first tractor I drove, and it belonged to my uncle," he relates. "When he sold out a couple years back, I bought it and had it restored."
Anyone listening to her in the quaint setting of those well-maintained fairgrounds could soon tell she was the real deal. Her Hoosier roots show through in her comments and attitude. "The whole family is that way," Cummings says. "We're just real proud of her, and we're glad we could make her trip back here possible."
It was only the second time she's been home in Jackson County since she was crowned Miss America, her mother, Tracy, related. However, she beamed and said it's been a whirlwind, but a great experience for their daughter.