Sweltering 90 degree heat did not prevent fairgoers from attending the opening ceremonies at the 80th annual Kimberton Community Fair on Monday night. The fair, a volunteer-run celebration of agriculture in Chester County, takes place in the last week of July each year at the Kimberton Fire Company on Route 113. This year, the festival of rides, games, juried competitions and award-winning donuts will run through Saturday, July 26.

Opening Ceremonies kicked off at 7:30 p.m. as members of the Phoenixville chapter of Veterans of Foreign Wars presented the colors and Senator Andrew S. Dinniman led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance. Pennsylvania State Representatives Curt Schroder, 155th District, and Duane Milne, 167th District, made brief welcoming remarks, followed by State Secretary of Agriculture Dennis C. Wolff, who presented Fair Secretary Karen Dobson with a certificate of recognition of the event's 80th birthday.

Finally, after half an hour of standing in the heat, the roughly 100 patrons saw what they had really been waiting for: The 2008 Kimberton Community Fair Queen Competition.

This year there were three Fair Queen contestants.

Penny Sinquett, 19, is the daughter of Christine and Carroll Sinquett of Malvern. A 2007 graduate of the Center for Arts and Technology Pickering Campus, Sinquett volunteers with the Special Olympics and participates in the local Relay for Life. She plans to become a farmer of cattle, goats, horses and pigs.

Suzanne Lightcap, 18, is the daughter of Steve and Bridgette Lightcap of Linfield. She is a senior at Western Center for Technical Studies where she is learning Health Occupations in order to become a certified Medical Assistant and, eventually, a large animal veterinarian. Lightcap is a past exhibitor at the fair and her artwork once graced the cover of the Competitive Exhibits Catalog.

Rachel Bearoff, 19, is the daughter of Eugene and Linda Kirkner of Kimberton. She is a sophomore at Pennsylvania State University, Berks Campus, where she studies animal sciences. One day she hopes to start her own Doggie Daycare business.

In order to compete, the contestants must be single women ages 16-20 who are

U.S. citizens and either residents of Chester County or Kimberton Fair exhibitors. Additionally, they must never have been a fair queen before and must be considered to have "good moral character." The competition involves a written essay on the importance of the Kimberton Fair to its community, a 3-5 minute speech on "Why You Should Come to the Kimberton Fair" and a personal interview. Judges included Deb Volkmer, project manager for community relations at Weston Solutions, Inc., which runs public relations for the EPA and other government agencies; Nick McCormick, a certified Toastmaster with the Chester County Toastmasters Club; and Cheryl Messere, a retired art teacher at the Schuylkill School who assesses the contestants' fair knowledge.

Energy ran high as the bravely tuxedoed emcee announced the 2008 Fair Queen, Rachel Bearoff, and her First Runner Up, Penny Sinquett. As fair queen, Bearoff won a $1,000 scholarship to go toward higher education. This scholarship was given a $500 boost from previous years thanks to a surprise donation from Kimberton Whole Foods, according to Fair Queen Coordinator Louise Kritzberger. Bearoff also won trophies for Best Interview and Best Overall Fair Spirit. "Agriculture is my life," Bearoff said, explaining that she has grown up raising farm animals. "I love it."

She will represent the community in future pageants and in other local activities throughout the year.

Judges also awarded trophies to Sinquett for Best Essay and Best Speech Presentation, and to Lightcap for Best Overall Fair Knowledge.

Over 30 sponsors are supporting this year's fair, including Delaware Valley Bobcat, First National Bank of Chester County, Gas Works, Kimberton Whole Foods, Total Rental, Barto Pool & Spa, Phoenixville Federal Bank & Trust, Suburban Electric Contractors, Wawa, the Chester County Highway Safety Project, Sign-a-rama of Royersford, AmeriGas Propane, C. Raymond Davis & Sons, Inc., Coatesville Coca-Cola Bottling Works, Inc., the East Coventry Police Association, Gateway Pharmacy, Schuylkill Township Police Officers, Bates Brothers Amusements, Kimberton Inn, West Whiteland Township Police Association, Colony Flowers, Petrucci's Ice Cream, Dominick's Auto Body, Joyce & John Steimer, National Penn Bank, the Phoenixville Area School District, Ron Black Insurance Agency, Maillie Falconiero & Co., LLP, Shear to Please and Cindy Rennard Creative Memories Consultants.

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