2017 Queen, Carley Miller, bids farewell

Being someone who has always been obsessed with all things Disney, not only did I grow up fantasizing about living in a castle, but I grew up with the idea that it was okay to put full trust into my dreams. After all, as said by Disney himself, "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." I fully believe in that statement, and, amidst all the chaos and bustle that comes with the October season, I knew that the Circleville Pumpkin Show would be a dream that, if I was courageous enough to apply myself, could come true. I think all of us as little girls looked at the beautiful girls wearing crowns and gorgeous attires with starry eyes, saying that would be us one day. Becoming the 2017 Miss Pumpkin Show Queen was one of those dreams that became fulfilled for me. The night of the contest this past year was one blurry night full of singing, dancing, and enjoying the company of a bunch of girls who were already queens, no matter if they got the title or not. The coolest thing about traveling for the Pumpkin Show has been, besides getting to represent Circleville with two amazing people by my side, meeting a community of girls who are all in the same place as me, traveling Ohio wearing pretty dresses and a unique crown to support their hometown. An opportunity to travel and find inspiring people is an opportunity that reaps endless benefits, and that is exactly what the Pumpkin Show has allowed me to do.

This year could not have been possible without the lovely town of Circleville and their Pumpkin Show. In my quest of doing the queen's pageant, I learned so much about Circleville that honestly shocked me, such as that the first Pumpkin Show was merely a table outside of an office that had a few gourds on it, and now it is the Greatest Free Show on Earth. I think we all start out like that, as just a bare table, and slowly we go through life with opportunities that add to our tables, evolving them into streets and streets of goodies and nourishment. I am so grateful to have the Pumpkin Show and am honored to have them to add on to my metaphorical table. None of this could have ever been done without all the unseen effort behind the Ferris Wheels and lines in front of Lindsey's Bakery.

To start the thank yous, I would first of all like to thank my family. You guys are the rocks that have taught me everything I know about life, and I appreciate you whole-heartedly. Mom, you were the one that held together all my crazy leading up to the week of the contest while holding in your own. I know you were probably more nervous than I was, but you kept me calm and confident. Kendal, you have always been my biggest supporter, and I thank you for introducing me to the queen world. I think everyone needs someone like you, someone who will constantly say "Go for it" whenever faced with a hard decision of whether or not to take the leap into the risk that comes with dreams. I would also have not been able to get through the night of the contest without my best friends standing in front row cheering for me. Kennedy, Haylee, and Sue Anne, you guys are the best.

To my new family in Circleville, the Pumpkin Show committee, you guys are the people who help little girls make their dreams come true and I cannot think of anyone who works harder than you. Linda Ballou, you have this determination and passion for the Pumpkin Show that I admire, and I truly think that anyone who can tolerate three teenage girls in the back seat of a convertible is worthy of recognition. You are such a strong woman and are the backbone of what goes on with the queens program, and I am very blessed to have this opportunity to meet and get to know you. Rob Febes, your light-heartedness and generosity will always have a place in my heart, and we genuinely appreciate your jokes especially when days are hot and we are cranky. To the local businesses and community members of Circleville, words cannot express my gratitude for you. You are all amazing and I wish I could tell you this as individuals instead of grouped, but unfortunately, I only get so much room. Being able to live in a town where I know I will be only treated with kindness and love is really a blessing I sometimes take for granted. I would especially love to give a shout out to Block's Shoes for saving my feet the week of the Pumpkin Show and to Angela Bowe from Lil' Bit of Heart Photography for taking pictures that shine brighter than the camera flash.

To the members of Teays Valley High School, thank you for supporting me and trusting me enough to send me on this crazy adventure. Mrs. Burgett and Allison Cheek, you both have impacted my life so much and I will forever be grateful for how you could instantly put a smile on my face, even when I was stressed out to the point of tears.

To Jeanne Radcliff, it is amazing what you do with so many of the contestants to help prepare and ease their nerves. It was a blessing to have you supporting me before, during, and after contest night and for helping me bring out my true self to the Show. I would also like to give a huge thank you for teaching me that a pumpkin is both a fruit and a vegetable, after much debate.

To my court, Brittany and Ellie, you are both beautiful girls who will wear a crown on your heads for the rest of your life. Brittany, I love your easy-going-ness and your fearless pursuit in following your dreams. You have this determination and work ethic that will take you far in life, and I cannot wait to hear about all of your college adventures. Ellie, you're this little ball of energy and I love spending time with you. You're so good at being yourself, which is something I think a lot of people struggle with in high school. I know that your passion and creativity will lead to great things. I am going to miss the long car rides, hunts for fried pickles, and attempts at synchronizing our waves during parade time.

I do not really believe in goodbyes, as the Pumpkin Show will never leave me. As I travel the world to find my next dream, I will always remember the things this past year has taught me: to always treat others as royalty, to always bring a pair of flats if I decide to wear heels, to always have a strong support group, and to always believe in your dreams. The experience of being the 2017 Miss Circleville Pumpkin Show was truly a fairy tale come true, and I could not be more grateful for this past year. It has been an honor to be in this position, and I am more than excited to pass on this experience to another girl looking to make her dreams happen.