Before sitting down with Miss Indiana State Fair, Erika Burghardt, I felt a little envious. I knew right after our conversation she would begin her trip to Castleton Square Mall to take advantage of the $1,000 shopping spree reward given to every state fair queen. What girl wouldn’t be a little jealous?
After just a few minutes of chatting with Erika, my envy quickly melted. Not only was I inspired by her passion for 4-H and the fair, her gracious spirit proved why she stood out among the 87 other contestants at the queen pageant last August.
“I watch the YouTube video of the moment I was crowned over and over again and every time I still get nervous when they are about to announce my name,” Erika said. “At that moment all I wanted to do was hug every person I saw. I still am just so grateful.”
Erika’s enthusiasm for the state fair stems from her 10-year 4-H membership. After spending eight years in the Swine Barn and being named a 4-H Record Achievement Recipient, she calls the 4-H community her second family.
“It is just one of those things you have to experience for yourself,” Erika said. “This organization has done so much for me and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without it. That’s why I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to give back to 4-H and the fair.”
And give back she will. Between her 44 appearances at county fairs, festivals and other fair promotional events, Erika will spend at least four days a week traveling all over Indiana during June and July. Once Aug. 3 rolls around, her duty as the fair’s Official Hostess becomes a 24/7 commitment.
Erika says her summer is completely dedicated to the fair. She is excited about the opportunity to promote the fair and 4-H, but is most looking forward to the connection she will make with each person she meets.
“I want everyone I interact with to feel special,” she said. “When I was little I always looked up to Miss Tippecanoe County. Now it’s my turn to be that role model for other little girls.”