2016 Queen, Paige Kirby, bids farewell

Saying goodbye is never an easy task. So naturally, saying goodbye to this incredible year does not come without some difficulty. However, I firmly believe in the quote by Dr. Seuss, "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." The night I was crowned as Miss Pumpkin Show 2016 was the most incredible moment of my life thus far. Traveling all over Ohio with my attendants, Riley and Grace, has been a true honor. More importantly, it has been an absolute blast. The queen community is full of amazing young women, who just like me, have such a love for their town and festival that is inspiring. I have enjoyed every minute of this past year, from all the different festivals, to the rides through the parades, and everything in-between.

The Pumpkin Show means a great deal to my family and I, as I know it does for many people here in Circleville. Receiving the honor of being named queen of this amazing show means more to us than can be put into words. The Pumpkin Show lives up to it's slogan, to live in the town that is the home of "The Greatest Free Show on Earth" fills me with incredible pride. I couldn't be more thankful for the Pumpkin Show Incorporated and the Pumpkin Show Queens Committee for making every part of this community's dream come to life and for giving all of us something to be proud of.

I want to send out a huge and sincere thank you to everyone who has gotten me to where I am today. First, my parents, brother, uncle, grandparents, and great grandpa. Your love and support has been the biggest and brightest light in my life. Your support is the reason I am able to do everything I have accomplished. You attended every festival in order to cheer us on and I cannot thank you enough for dedicating your time to that (even though you had just as much fun as I did at all of them).

To all of the members of Westfall High School class of 2017, I've said it before and I will say it again, I love you. I credit every part of this experience to all of you who believed in me and trusted me with such an honor. Liz, Mrs. Kelley, Mrs. Brown, and Mr. Dennis, thank you for all of your support, advice, and assistance with this process. Bringing the crown back to Westfall is something I will forever be proud of. To everyone who supported me by wearing my shirt, holding a sign, or wishing me luck, I truly don't think I could have done this without you. I will always be a proud to call myself a Westfall Mustang.

The City of Circleville, business owners and community members, you have all been so kind to me and I wish there was some way I could make you all feel as special as you have made me feel. Thank you, Circleville businesses, for those extremely generous gift baskets that the court and I received. It's a blessing to be able to say that we live in a town with such generous people and businesses.

Michele Lanman, thank you for bringing me to the stage during Community Care Day and for all of your love and advice. A big thank you also goes to Jeanne Radcliff for dedicating your time to helping all of the contestants feel confident and at ease. Your passion is such a blessing to us all. A very, very special thank you to Linda Ballou. Your love for The Pumpkin Show and OFEA is something I will always have a deep respect for. I will be forever grateful for your time that you dedicated to us silly girls. We greatly appreciate everything you have done for us, whether that be having a cold bottle of water for us on hot days, or driving us all around Ohio, your hard work has not gone unnoticed. Without you, this year wouldn't have been so wonderful. You're the woman who makes this all possible, and we cannot thank you enough.

Lastly, thank you to Riley and Grace, our first and second attendant. You two are some of the funniest and most beautiful girls I know. I have been so blessed to have had the opportunity to travel this summer together, and to be able to call you both close friends. This experience would not have been the same without you two. We have had some amazing times together, from our laughs to our obsession with free chapstick. I can't wait to see what your futures hold, and where our friendships lead us.

Although I don't want this experience to end, I am so excited that another young woman in our community will get the experience of that crowning moment and a year full of memories that will last a lifetime. I wish this year's contestants the best of luck and hope that you all enjoy the opportunity to represent your school. I am so excited to start this next chapter in my life, but I will forever remember and be grateful for my time as Miss Pumpkin Show 2016.