When Jesse Mays heard her name called as a fourth runner up at Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant, she could not believe it.
“I have never been in pageants before Miss Scott County Fair. It was very exciting,” Mays said.
In July 2018, Mays was crowned Miss Scott County Fair, advancing her to the Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant, which was held earlier this month.
Mays competed against 86 fair queens — not every county in Indiana has a fair and some do not send a fair queen. She was judged on an interview portion, formal wear, and professional wear. She had to prepare a one-minute memorized speech and was given an impromptu onstage question.
“I had a couple of people ask about sponsorships. I thought, ‘Why not?’ It was a good opportunity. Any time I can interview with anybody, I’d like the practice,” Mays said.
For her onstage question, she was given the word powerful. She decided to talk about her sister, Jaylah, who is a junior at Scottsburg High School.
“When I think of powerful, I think of my sister. My sister is a basketball player, and she works all of the time. When I try to be powerful, I always think of my sister because I remember all it takes is determination, and you can do anything,” Mays said on the Indiana State Fair Queen Pageant stage.
“That’s my sister,” Jaylah Mays screamed out from the crowd when her sister finished her impromptu question.
Along with being crowned Miss Scott County Fair, Jesse Mays is a 10-year 4-H member, where she serves as a 4-H Ambassador. She joined 4-H to spend more time with her dad.
“My dad always had horses at home. It was something we could do together,” Mays said.
Mays showed horses and competed in Western riding, halter, and showmanship. She won state grand champion and all-county halter horse as a 4-H member. Being in 4-H taught Mays more than showing horses and ponies, it allowed her to explore other interests in consumer clothing, computer science, photography, and leadership.
“I stand in front of you today as not only as Miss Scott County but as an advocate for the 4-H program, an organization that encourages children to pursue what makes them truly unique,” Mays said during her one-minute memorized speech.
When Mays arrived at the Indiana State Fairgrounds for the queen pageant, she had a surreal moment — the place that housed her other interests became her overnight accommodations. Each pageant contestant stayed in the 4-H project building, a place where 4-H members annually show their other interests in the arts, engineering, technology, environmental science, healthy living, animal science, and leadership.
“It was like a church camp. We slept in bunk beds,” Mays said. “A lot of people were really nice.”
As fourth runner up, Mays received a set of makeup brushes, gift cards to prom stores, and $100. She also learned about other pageants to compete in, such as the Miss Indiana USA Pageant and the Indianapolis 500 Festival Princess Program. The 500 Festival Princess Program provides its participants with a $1,000 scholarship; each Princess has to have a cumulative college GPA of 3.0.
Jesse Mays attends Indiana University Southeast. She is majoring in English and philosophy before heading to law school next year. Because of the college credits she earned while in high school, Mays started at IUS as a junior and will finish her undergraduate degree in the spring of 2020. Austin High School and Scottsburg High School offer students opportunities to earn college credits before they graduate.
“I transferred in with a lot of credits,” Mays said.
Along with her academic accomplishments, Mays works with the United Way with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. She served as two terms as the lieutenant governor of the Indiana District of Key Club.
“I want to be a good voice in the community,” Mays said. “It was important for me to represent Scott County. The pageant was a really good opportunity to talk about the good things on in Scott County.”