2018 Queen, Elise Pickett, bids farewell

As a little girl growing up in a family in love with all things Circleville, The Circleville Pumpkin Show was a never-miss, take-off-work, type of event. As I began the adventure of competing in the Miss Pumpkin Show contest I reminded myself of the way I wanted to compete and if successful, the way I wanted to perform as Miss Pumpkin Show. I wanted to always stay true to who I was no matter the outcome of the night. The quote, "Remember who you are" was recited to my sister, my cousins, and me by our grandparents when any event of significance came up. After being crowned Miss Pumpkin Show 2018, I began a journey that I knew would change and shape me into a better version of who I already was. Looking back on my time as the Miss Pumpkin Show Queen, I realize how much it has shaped who I am today and the way I will be in the future.

First and foremost, I am -- part of a loving family. From the unending support given to me throughout my life, the random pieces of advice, the most creative Pumpkin Show signs, and loudest cheering section, my family has truly been here for me to the fullest extent. During the weeks leading up to Pumpkin Show, they helped me to be a better speaker, made hilarious signs featuring my face on different animals, and offered help with every part of the contest. Having cousins who wore my T-shirt to school, even though they are not Teays Valley students, and making signs with the most ridiculous puns and my face glued onto various animals brought a smile to my face and helped me remember just how loving my family is. And of course, I will never forget the feeling of riding through the parade and always having the most amazing cheering section on the porch of Leist Mercantile, from the first parade to the last. There was never a moment I passed the porch and didn't hear countless people cheering for me. The amount of love I felt in these moments is priceless and I cannot thank them enough.

I am - a proud Teays Valley Viking. The weeks leading up to the Pumpkin Show were some of the most exciting days at school. My classmates supported me by wearing my T-shirts and sending little "good luck" text messages. Looking out over the crowd during the parade and at the judging and seeing my best friends wildly cheering me on was indescribable. I would like to give a special thank you to Hannah Galinger, the Teays Valley senior representative, for being there for me through it all. We have been friends and teammates for my entire high school career and I would not have wanted to share the stage with anyone else. To the class of 2020, thank you for choosing me to represent you this year; there are so many amazing girls in our class and I am proud to have been chosen to represent you all this year. And of course, thank you to my "Glam Squad," Lexie, Haley, Alexa, Brooke and Trina, for making sure my hair and makeup were always on point.

I am - a small town girl. Circleville is an amazing city and I am honored to represent it. The small businesses of Circleville make Pumpkin Show what it is today. These businesses provided a great "swag bag" (it was actually a very large storage container) to my court and me. Thank you to all of the donors, and especially Becky and all the girls from Maggie & Me, for always ensuring my look and my outfit were complete. Jeanne Radcliff selflessly devoted her time making sure each girl was prepared for interviews and helping me personally to represent Circleville, Teays Valley High School, and of course myself, in the best way I possibly could, and for that I am so, so grateful.

I am - a child of God. The immense support poured out upon me by my church family was incredible. Many generations, from the youngest to the oldest, showed up on Wednesday night to cheer me on. This meant so much to me and God was truly seen at work throughout the entire week.

I am - a daughter and sister. My mom and dad have been nothing but supportive throughout this whole process. To my mom, thank you for always getting me dressed and ready and allowing me to be picky when it comes to suits and gowns. Although I know sometimes (and, let's be honest, most times) I was difficult, you always told me I was beautiful and you made sure that I arrived where I needed to be on time. To my dad, thank you for adapting to the whirlwind that surrounds queen life and making sure my belly was full of the best food in the festival; tested of course by you and your trusty sidekick, Sam. You always build me up and make sure I am ready for what lies ahead. To my sister, Zoe, thank you for being there to always fix my dress, hair, or anything that looked out of place. You were my biggest cheerleader and none of this could have been possible without your love and support.

I am - a girl with an aspiration to gracefully represent Circleville and the people she loves. Successfully representing the City of Circleville and The Greatest Free Show on Earth would not have been possible without Linda, Rob, Calee, and Dawn. They always had anything and everything we could possibly need including fans, water bottles, and even road trip games for the long car rides. They also helped teach me what it means to wear the Circleville Pumpkin Show sash and crown, and I thank them for helping me to grow both as a person and as a representative of the city we all love so much.

I am - your 2018 Circleville Pumpkin Show Queen. That being said, I could not have done this without my amazing court, and honestly, I wouldn't have wanted to. They made this entire experience more fun and I am truly grateful to them for becoming more than just my court, but my friends. Allyson and Sydney, thank you for making my memories sweeter than the huge Lemonade Shake-Ups we had at each festival. Our daily counts of dogs, boy scouts, random trash trucks, and encounters with Buck-I-Guy made parades that much funnier and more enjoyable. I will miss all of our times together this upcoming summer and all the events in which we participated. Lastly, I would like to thank the representatives of all the schools in the Circleville Trading Area. Through the queens contest I made lifelong friends, who are all queens in the eyes of Sydney, Allyson, and me.

I am...Elise Pickett, part of a loving family, a proud Teays Valley Viking, a small town girl, a child of God, a daughter, a girl with an aspiration to represent her town and the people she loves, and your 2018 Pumpkin Show Queen. Finally, I would like to thank you all. People all over Ohio stop me on the street to tell me how much they love the Circleville Pumpkin Show, but it would not be what it is today without all the people who work hard to put on The Greatest Free Show on Earth and of course, those who come to enjoy it. We all love Pumpkin Show, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share that love with even more people over this past year.